ISBN 978-0-374-30038-8 $16.99
Reviewed from galleys Ad 3-6 yrs
When our young protagonist finds a large brown bear in his bed, he takes it in stride, but then he comes back from dinner to find his unexpected guest has left the bedroom a mess. Using the cleaning up of toys as an impetus to start the bedtime routine, the boy easily slips into the parent role, walking the bear through the steps of brushing teeth, reading stories, etc., and finally giving goodnight kisses. Kids will no doubt be familiar with the steps, but the silent bear’s antics add giggles to the predictability as he parties when it’s potty time, dons underwear on his head as jammies, and attempts to eat the bedtime books. The plot is slight, however, and it takes a couple of strange turns that undermine the effectiveness of the ritual made comedic. There’s appeal in Wan’s eye-catching illustrations, though: boy and bear are rendered in thick, chunky lines, and a mere twist of the mouth or curve of the eye easily conveys joy, exasperation, and sleepiness; white space and full spreads are used strategically to move the story along, and the graphically bold backgrounds give this potential beyond a lapsit. The random bunnies that pop up at the end [End Page 450] generate a strained and unnecessary pun, but fans familiar with Wan’s The Whale in My Swimming Pool may appreciate the kooky humor, especially when they catch said whale peeking in on the ursine evening routine.