cover image The Best Gift for Bear

The Best Gift for Bear

Jennifer A. Bell. Two Lions, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-5420-2922-3

Hedgehog has been hard at work baking and decorating cookies for her friends and neighbors—“snowflakes for the mice, trees for the squirrels, and a special rabbit for each rabbit. Hedgehog knows a LOT of rabbits.” When the time comes to think of a gift for beloved friend Bear, Hedgehog deliberates, embarks on an epic bake of architectural proportions, and works to transport it through wind and snow until disaster paves the way for another kind of gift. Bell crafts a peaceful and contemplative story, sweet without turning saccharine, in a gentle setting—soft gouache and colored pencil illustrations portray a cozy animalian and domestic realm featuring winningly frosted baked goods, while task-oriented lines (“Brick by brick, swirl by swirl”) hint at Hedgehog’s determination. This genuinely heartfelt, quietly moving friendship story emphasizes that “a day with a friend is the best gift of all.” Gingerbread and honey icing recipes included. Ages 3–7. (Sept.)