Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Bear needs help by Sarah S. Brannen

This deceptively simple story is perfect for a range of ages. Brannen, the author/illustrator of a variety of picture books, most recently the Madame Martine series, presents an adorable bear and his quest for a little help.

Bear, a plump creamy polar bear with bright red shoes, has a problem. He tries asking the sea lions, the rabbits, the lemmings... but nobody will help him, they just run away. Finally, a pair of ptarmigan with kindly eyes know just what bear needs - someone to untie his shoelaces! Shoes removed, Bear plunges into the deep green sea and the ptarmigan note that "He really needs to learn to do that himself." The final spread hints that maybe he'll have to learn fast as a pair of hairy brown legs with yellow shoes show up on the edge of the ice with a quest for help...

The minimalist illustrations have broad lines but the animals still have expressive faces and there's enough dimension to read the story several different ways. Readers can explore the different creatures (although the rabbits look more like pets than Arctic hares), predict the end of the story (does Bear need his shoe tied... or his other three shoes untied?) and the final hint at the end implies there are other bears out there in shoes that need tying!

Verdict: A simple, fun story that can be expanded for storytime and for helping kids remember that sometimes everybody needs a little help.

ISBN: 9780525516507; Published January 2019 by Philomel; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library

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