Sonderbooks Stand-out

Sonderbooks Book Review of

A Library Book for Bear

by Bonny Becker

illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton

A Library Book for Bear

by Bonny Becker
illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton

Review posted March 6, 2015.
Candlewick Press, 2014. 40 pages.
Starred Review
2015 Sonderbooks Stand-out: #9 Picture Books

I do so love the Bear and Mouse books by Bonny Becker and Kady MacDonald Denton! Just when I thought I couldn’t like them any more, the fifth book is about a trip to the library.

The whole pattern of the book is similar to those that have gone before. The beginning sets the stage:

Bear had never been to the library.
He had seven very nice books at home:
three about kings and queens, three about honeybees,
and one about pickles.
Bear was quite sure he had
all the books he would ever need.

Naturally, it’s Bear’s friend Mouse who convinces him to come to the library. There’s a nice little twist in their method of transportation. (I hadn’t seen Bear leave his house before.)

Bear skated and Mouse rode in the basket to the library, the wind rippling nicely through their fur.

As the pattern with the Bear books inevitably includes Bear getting angry and talking VERY LOUDLY, and since they are, after all, on a trip to the library, readers in the know will be getting ready for a problem.

In this case, there's a nice paradox in that what Bear bellows is, "QUIET VOICES IN THE LIBRARY!"

I must say that the librarian deals with it beautifully, and it's no spoiler to say that after enjoying Storytime, bear goes happily home with seven new books, one oh-so-appropriate one of which Bear reads to Mouse that very same day.

Two things are consistently delightful about this series: the illustrations and the language.

The illustrations are cartoons, which always amaze me when they communicate depths of emotion -- as these inevitably do. In this book, I especially like the drawing of the round stepstool with rubberized top -- exactly the same kind we use at our library. There are plenty of little details like that, but consistent on every page are the wonderful expressions on faces.

And the language! Bonny Becker does not talk down to kids, and it gives a melodious tone to her books. They simply beg to be read aloud, and I have read them happily to age groups from preschool to third grade. Bear says things like, "Completely unnecessary," "Most excessive!" "Terribly extravagant!" "I can assure you that pickles are quite interesting!"

Another delightful offering from Bonny Becker and Kady MacDonald Denton. How do they keep it up so consistently?