Friday, October 16, 2009

A Birthday for Bear

I very much loved A Visitor for Bear, which deservedly received a fair amount of national attention (list of awards here) when it was published last year. This is a gem of a story that details how a mouse chock full of cheery persistence wears down a curmudgeonly bear. If this is the first you have heard of this comedic duo, listen to the story on NPR here.

When you find a book as delightful as this, it is always a thrill to hear of a sequel being released. I am tickled pink to see the ever grumpy bear and tenacious mouse make a reappearance. Mouse is delighted to help celebrate his friend's birthday, but Bear is much less enthusiastic - downright rude actually.

Mouse turns up bearing a nicely decorated card and Bear actually lies about it being his birthday! He tells Mouse in no uncertain terms that he does not like birthdays, he does not like birthday cards and he most certainly will NOT be having a birthday party! Then he unceremoniously sweeps him from the house. Bear thinks he has made himself quite clear, but we know how Mouse can be . . .

Sure enough, Mouse returns wearing his trademark grin, masquerading as a balloon bearing deliveryman, a posting with a birthday greeting and finally as Santa Claus carrying a very large package. Each time Bear is wise to his tricks, seeing through each disguise to boot Mouse from the house.

Bear is getting just a tiny bit worn down by Mouse's antics and begins to wonder what sort of present could be in that large box. Just then the doorbell rings, revealing one large chocolate cake. Bear glares and peeks into the bushes, but there is no Mouse in sight. As Bear swipes one sweet pawful of chocolate cake - TA-DA - Mouse erupts from the cake. Just as he sweet talked his way into this friendship in the first book, he persuades Bear to celebrate his birthday with a cake, balloons and a wonderful gift.

Mouse is very persistent and Bear is very resistant. The fun is what happens when they meet in the middle. I love watching these two face off - you can practically see the wheels turning in Mouse's head and the waves of frustration coming from Bear. This unlikely pair combine to become a huge hit which will have readers giggling out loud!

The book that jump started the friendship:


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