Monday, December 7, 2009

A Birthday for Bear

Horn Book (September/October, 2009)
Mouse may have won Bear's friendship in their picture book debut, A Visitor for Bear (rev. 3/08), but apparently he didn't change Bear's attitude. Together again, now in a book for beginning readers, Mouse is still politely persistent and Bear is as misanthropic as ever. Though Bear insists it's not his birthday, Mouse has a party invitation that says differently. "'Let me see that!' demanded Bear...'This is your handwriting!'" Bear sweeps Mouse out the door and carries on with his housework; he's "always very, very busy on his birthday." Mouse, as fans of the first book know, doesn't let a little antisocial behavior deter him. He comes back again and again, first disguised as a tiny deliveryman with balloons ("You are not a deliveryman...I can see your tail"), then as a mail carrier with a card, and finally as a gift-bearing mini-Santa who tricks Bear into admitting it is in fact his birthday. The witty back-and-forth between these two sparring partners is similar to that in the first book, but the easy reader format is a much better choice for a fifty-six-page illustrated story. Denton's friendly ink and watercolor pictures are just as effective here at conveying tone and emotion. Mouse's attentiveness eventually pays off, and Bear ends up enjoying his birthday party. It's amazing what homemade chocolate birthday cake and a determined friend can accomplish.

No comments: