Friday, May 1, 2009

The Lazy Bear by Brian Wildsmith

I've been working my way through Brian Wildsmith's gorgeously illustrated picture books recently.

Unfortunately, many of them are out of print, but quite a few libraries still have them hidden away on their shelves. The Lazy Bear is one of my newest favorites. The lazy bear has an endearingly suprised-looking face, and the most ruffly, tuffly fur I've ever seen. The characters involved in action are splayed around exuberant splashes of flowery colour, representing the hill, which is central to the plot.

The spreads are also full of Wildsmith's magical birds, each one differently marked, fluttering in feathery clouds around the bear and his friends. The bear's friends include a deliciously stripy raccooon, fuzzy deer, and tousled goat.

Unfortunately, like most of Wildsmith's stories, the plot, dialogue, and the whole text in general are just blah. The bear finds a wagon, discovers how fun it is to ride down the hill, gets tired of pushing the wagon up the hill, and cons his friends into doing all the work. When they revolt and punish the lazy bear, he realizes how mean he was and makes amends. The text is pedestrian and didactic - as always, one wishes Wildsmith had gotten someone to write better stories for his beautiful art.

Verdict: Some of Wildsmith's books have been reprinted, but not this one. Worth getting if you're a collector, but the blah stories make this a poor choice for storytime.

ISBN: 978-0192796936; Published June 1987 by Oxford University Press; Borrowed from the library; Added to my personal wishlist

1 comment:

Anamaria (bookstogether) said...

I feel exactly that way about Wildsmith. Will look for Lazy Bear, anyway.