cover image Mother Bruce

Mother Bruce

Ryan T. Higgins. Disney-Hyperion, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-4847-3088-1

Bruce is a grumpy bear. He’s also a thieving and unscrupulous bear, and he likes to take eggs from nests (“He cooked them into fancy recipes he found on the internet”). But four eggs he grabs from a goose don’t cook. They hatch. The four goslings that emerge follow Bruce everywhere, and no matter how he threatens—even when he bares his fangs and roars—the adorable big-footed goslings look merely puzzled. Little by little, the geese break Bruce down (“Bruce was stuck with them. He tried to make the best of it”) and wear away at his dignity; in one scene he glares darkly beside a wading pool in water wings and flippers. Having passed through goose infancy and goose adolescence (complete with headphones) into adulthood, the geese refuse to migrate; Bruce has to improvise. Higgins (Wilfred) dwells satisfyingly on Bruce’s forbidding scowls and tubby middle, and even portrays properly the change from gosling fuzz to adult Canada goose plumage. It’s a droll look at conflict won by the underdog and—in its way—a book about unconventional families. Ages 3–5. Agent: Paul Rodeen, Rodeen Literary Management. (Nov.)