cover image I Thought This Was a Bear Book

I Thought This Was a Bear Book

Tara Lazar, illus. by Benji Davies. S&S/Aladdin, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4424-6307-3

Familiar storybook characters go off-topic in an off-kilter literary mashup that originates with two books tumbling off a child’s shelf in the night. Amid billowing pink exhaust, a spacecraft barrels out of one volume and crashes on a page with the “three bears” of Goldilocks fame. “I am Prince Zilch from Planet Zero!” a green alien announces to the startled bears. Zilch needs to return to his own book in time to “save Planet Zero from giant planet-eating numbers,” yet the curious bears only muddle around in his ship. “Pardon me, small Earthling,” Zilch implores readers. “It is crucial I return by page 27!” Baby Bear breaks the fourth wall, too, urging readers to shake the book so Zilch may “crash out” of the story. Lazar (The Monstore) tells the story through dialogue, and Davies (Goodnight Already) color-codes the voice balloons by character. With its wandering cast of characters, overlapping stories, and inside jokes aimed at those well-versed in nursery rhymes and fairy tales, this “bear book” reveals itself as a book about books. Ages 4–7. Author’s agent: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary Agency. Illustrator’s agency: Bright Agency. (Aug.)