cover image BEARS!


Paul Stickland, Paul Strickland, P. Stickland, . . Ragged Bears, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-929927-34-0

Stickland (The Christmas Bear) gives new meaning to the phrase "bear witness" in this rhyming story, in which a boy becomes convinced that his house is hosting an ever-growing gathering of ursine guests. "I lay in bed with all my toys," the boy narrates, as Stickland shows him in his bedroom surrounded by a predominately stuffed bear menagerie, "I thought I heard a furry noise." He finds friendly-looking bears of all sizes and colors rapidly taking over the downstairs, snacking on cupcakes and boogying to a jazz combo. They cheerfully make the boy part of the proceedings, but he soon realizes that every house has its occupancy limit, and rouses his father to disperse the crowd. In a nice touch, Stickland shows the sleepy father, who, rather than admonishing the boy that it's just a dream, stands at the top of the stairs and issues a loud and effective "Shoo!" Every full-bleed spread, bathed in an ethereal glow, conveys both the lateness of the hour and the giddily imaginary nature of the goings-on. Although the bears are unremarkable, their sheer volume makes up for what they lack in individual personalities. And the "Here we go again" punchline that wraps up the book should elicit giggles. Ages 2-6. (Nov.)