Tuesday, January 20, 2009


OLD BEAR by Kevin Henkes (Greenwillow)
What does a bear dream about when he hibernates? A summer that rains blueberries, with a bright daisy sun in the sky? An autumn as brown as tree bark and fur? An ice-covered world, or a springtime return to the days of frolicking like a cub? When the old bear's eyes open to the real world, it is filled with all the wonders of his dreams. Double-page spreads with broad, heavy lines journey through all the seasons and capture both Old Bear's lumbering size and sweet vulnerability. Even if you are used to the exceptional talent of this author/illustrator first made famous by the energetic LILY'S PURPLE PLASTIC PURSE, you will be surprised by this simpler style, at once bold and gentle. This book is a celebration of the Earth, its changes and its creatures. Perfect for preschoolers, and paired with the surrealistic wordless WONDER BEAR by Tao Nyeu (Dial), children will love to illustrate their own scenes of bear's winter dreams, or perhaps depict a dream of their own. (4 and up)

Also of interest:
The best kind of bear market!
BEAR'S PICTURE by Daniel Pinkwater, illustrated by D.B. Johnson (Houghton Mifflin)

"It doesn't look like any of those things to us,"
said the two fine, proper gentlemen.

"It doesn't have to," said the bear. "It's MY picture."

Know any other artists like this...maybe in your home or classroom,? Two straight-laced critics come upon a bear attempting to create art, and have a heck of a time identifying what is on the canvas. That's okay, they never believed a bear could paint to begin with. Naysayers often get their come-uppance, and this story bears no exception. This jaunty tale by an author who often leads the parade of people who like to march to their own drummer (case in point: THE BIG ORANGE SPLOT) is well matched to the jaunty, angular, borderline abtract style of this newly-illustrated reissue. (5 and up)

On a personal note:
Blessings and best wishes today to all the children who now truly believe that they can be president someday, and that, like Old Bear and Mr. Plumbean of The Big Orange Splot, the real world is filled with all of the wonders of their dreams. My favorite moment of this new day:

What if the mightiest word is love,
love beyond marital, filial, national.
Love that casts a widening pool of light.
Love with no need to preempt grievance.
In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made,
any sentence begun.

-Elizabeth Alexander, "Inaugural Poem"

Links are provided for informational use. Don't forget to support your local bookseller.
More Esmé stuff at www.planetesme.com.


John Speno said...

Hooray for Pinkwater!

Old Bear is a great book and Bear's Picture is on my wishlist.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing that wonderful passage from the "Inaugural Poem".

What a mighty story we began on January 20th and its first sentence began with love!


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