cover image Big Smelly Bear

Big Smelly Bear

Britta Teckentrup, . . Boxer Books, $12.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-905417-37-7

Teckentrup's (Kancil and the Crocodiles ) determinedly dirty and deliciously rendered hero looks a lot like a mucky soccer field to which paws, ears and a snout have been added. His name is no exaggeration—he smells so bad that flies "were the only ones that ever came close." What finally gets him to come clean? A bad itch he can't reach and a cutie named Big Fluffy Bear, who offers to scratch his back if he'll take a bath first (she makes this offer while perched in a tree, safely out of range of the stink). The two bears quibble and Big Smelly Bear acquiesces grumpily (the interplay will undoubtedly remind some readers of exchanges between parent and child) but it's clearly the beginning of a beautiful friendship. While its subject matter is grubby, this is one handsome book. Teckentrup creates strikingly graphic spreads from simple, large-scale shapes and expressionistic overlays of texture and color. The combination of the blunt text and bold pictures might even help cajole reluctant bathers to get their feet wet. Ages 3-6. (Mar.)