cover image My Bear Griz

My Bear Griz

Suzanne McGinniss. Frances Lincoln (PGW, dist.), $17.95 (28p) ISBN 978-1-84780-113-5

Newcomer McGinniss spins a fantasy about a boy’s ideal pet: a docile and obliging grizzly bear. McGinniss draws Griz in all his furry, naturalistic majesty, his warm coat a mass of scratchy brown ink lines, his heavy head as big as his owner Billy’s whole body. Griz dominates most of the spreads, his bulk echoed in the book’s extra-large type. His body warms Billy as they sleep together (“Griz is great for taking naps”), and his massive claws grasp a slender tree trunk that does nothing to disguise him in a game of hide-and-seek. “I usually win,” Billy says. Billy confides in Griz, too (“I am scared of the dark,” reads wobbly childlike letters scribbled on the page between Billy and Griz. “Sometimes I pick my nose”). Despite his small size, it’s Billy who’s in charge, an impression bolstered by his newspaper crown. The discovery on the last page that Griz is really Billy’s regulation-size teddy bear isn’t a big surprise, but this visually playful ode to the strength of a child’s imagination establishes McGinniss as a talent worth watching. Ages 2–6. (Nov.)