cover image A Beginner’s Guide to Bear Spotting

A Beginner’s Guide to Bear Spotting

Michelle Robinson, illus. by David Roberts. Bloomsbury, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-68119-026-6

As a junior woodsman heads into bear country, Robinson’s (There’s a Lion in My Cornflakes) narrator—who is highly unreliable and something of a classic British scold—tags along. “I don’t think you’re taking this very seriously,” the narrator sniffs when the boy cheekily displays his blue teddy bear. “You ought to, you know.” Soon a black bear and a brown bear make appearances, looking exactly as hulking and beady-eyed as they appear in the boy’s field guide, and the narrator’s insights become increasingly unhelpful: “With a brown bear, the best thing to do is play dead. Although to a black bear, that’s like an invitation to dinner.” The day is saved—at least momentarily—when the boy ignores the narrator in favor of his own plan. However, the Klassenesque final page suggests that the boy’s exploring days are permanently over, striking a grim closing note. Roberts’s (Happy Birthday, Madame Chapeau) artwork is exquisitely inked and textured, and there’s subversive comedy on every page, such as when the bears strike coquettish come-hither poses in the pages of the boy’s field guide. Ages 3–6. (Feb.)