cover image One Bear Extraordinaire

One Bear Extraordinaire

Jayme McGowan. Abrams, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4197-1654-6

With a backpack stuffed with musical instruments, “Bear was a rambling musician. An entertainer. A legend.” In McGowan’s debut, he learns that being part of a band is even more rewarding than life as a solo artist. As Bear travels the forest, he befriends banjo-strumming Fox, accordion-wielding Raccoon, and others. No Bremen Town Musicians, these animals make great music together, and a small hiccup—Wolf Pup doesn’t seem to have a knack for any instrument—is quickly resolved when he makes his vocal talents known. McGowan’s writing has a pleasing musical lilt (“And so they trekked and they tramped, on and on, into the valley, where they heard a fiddle on the wind”), but it’s her artwork that really stands out. Creating carefully assembled three-dimensional scenes from hand-painted cut-paper elements, McGowan’s layered images have a rusticity that’s in keeping with her itinerant musicians’ free-spirited mind-set (the accordion folds of Raccoon’s accordion are an especially charming touch). It’s a fine choice for those whose preferred song is that of the open road. Ages 4–8. [em]Agent: Emily van Beek, Folio Literary Management. (Sept.) [/em]