ISBN 978-0-8037-4159-1 $17.99
Reviewed from galleys R* 3-6 yrs
The sun’s going down, and Bear is really hungry. Fortunately, he lives in a forest with a multitude of treats, such as berries, honey, grubs, and, of course, campers’ food stores, and he hoards as many delectable delights as he can find as he moves through the woods. When the moon catches his eye, though, he’s guiltily indignant (“Hey, stop following me, Moon”). The moon staunchly persists, and Bear’s comments grow increasingly defensive and even evasive (he attempts a diversion with “Hey, look over there, it’s Bigfoot!” to which an irked Bigfoot replies, “Not cool”). When the moon hides behind the clouds, however, Bear panics at the dark and then welcomes the moon back with open arms and a moonlit feast for everybody, animals and humans alike. Bear’s exclamations, embedded in the art, are streamlined but comedic, making for crowd-pleasing reading aloud and accessible reading alone; his transition from cocky to suspicious to conciliatory makes him an endearing figure. Farrell uses the pencil and digital art to create a hilarious and original wild world, a cross between the round yet airy toy-ness of Tao Nyeu (Bunny Days, BCCB 2/10) and the detailed landscapes of Mitsumasa Anno, which is slightly tamed by the cool teal and brown palette but remains divertingly, quietly weird. It’s well worth poring over the illustrations to find amusing details (Bigfoot hanging out amid the trees several spreads before Bear outs him; the foxes collecting a boom box and having a dance party), even if some—the recurring motif of animals’ possessing one huge and one small eye, for instance—remain unexplained. Whether as an offbeat bedtime story or simply an entertaining tale about a goofy bear, there’s great imagination-seizing potential here.