Monday, May 7, 2012

No Bears

Horn Book (May/June, 2012)

Ella proclaims that she is in charge of this book, and this book will have no bears, not a one: "Every time you read a book, it’s just BEARS BEARS BEARS." She decrees that her book will have a monster and a princess and a fairy godmother instead, makes herself a crown, and begins her bear-free tale. Readers, however, can see perfectly well in the delicate and droll illustrations that there is a bear in the book they’re reading, one wearing a green print dress with a nice bee pattern. Ella’s fairy godmother endeavors to keep the bear out of the story, but when she puts down her magic wand for a moment, the bear picks it up and eventually uses it to rescue the princess from the monster. This is a picture book that will send the reader delightedly back again and again to sort out the layers of reality. In one illustration, for instance, Ella is reaching into the book to add a castle while her fairy godmother is painting a no-bears-allowed sign on the page and the bear stands forlornly across the book, holding a picture of itself holding a jar of honey. Both the story and the inventive digital pictures draw readers in deeper and deeper, along with the many fairy-tale details to discover (clever viewers will spot all the usual suspects, from Little Red Riding Hood to Rapunzel to the Three Little Pigs). susan dove lempke

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