Baby Bear makes a handful of discoveries in this volume of four short stories. He finds a boot, returning it to its rightful owner; he finds a rare flower, making his mother’s day; he helps a baby bird, handing him safely back to his mother; and he makes a new friend. All of this is told in simple sentences and easy-to-follow dialogue.
With an endearing protagonist—Baby Bear is curious, caring and determined to be helpful—and a sunny, earth-tone palette, young readers will be drawn easily into Baby Bear’s world. Most of the artwork features circular or oval spot illustrations with generous white space surrounding them, while one illustration in each story covers both sides of a spread. These compositions, as well as the book’s bucolic setting, give the book a cozy, intimate feel. The tone is sweet and gentle, and Baby Bear’s abundant naïveté (he must ask a friend what “rare” even means) will be relatable to the preschool audience at which the book is aimed.
The strikingly childlike bear, not to mention the anthropomorphized forest creatures and the old-fashioned vibe of the stories, all bring to mind Else Holmelund Minarik’s Little Bear books, illustrated by Maurice Sendak, even if no bear stories can ever hold a candle to those eloquent classics. But this Baby Bear’s stories, in their warmly lit outdoor world, will make a cozy send-off at bedtime for the youngest of listeners—and may be just the book they pick up again when they’re ready to start reading.
Julie Danielson features authors and illustrators at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, a children’s literature blog.