Saturday, January 12, 2013

No Bears

Meg McKinlay; Illustrated by Leila Rudge 

"Every time you read a book, it's just BEARS BEARS BEARS - horrible furry bears slurping honey in awful little caves." That's how fed up Ella is with bears hogging all the storybooks. She needs a break from all the bears. The obvious solution is to take matters into her own hands and create a storybook that has, you guessed it, no bears. No bears in her castle, no bears in her forest, no bears putting their grimy little paws in her book, period. 

Instead of bears crowding up the joint, Ella's book has a tutorial for making your own paper crown, fairies with shimmering wings, a map of faraway places, and a terrible monster. This monster is also terribly (hilariously) dressed, replete in a pair of yellow and coral striped tights and an offbeat patterned mask. Ella's story has action, adventure, and like all good storybooks, a happy ending. 

I like how Ella includes classic storybook elements in a seemingly random way. When she introduces the monster to the story, a little girl in a red cape and hood runs past with a basket while a wolf looks on. The monster crosses the river in a bathtub with an owl and a pussycat, later passing by a trio of pigs in one house, and a girl with a suspiciously long braid in another.

There may be no bears allowed in, but one lurks (unknown to the bear banning author) right at the edges of the book, with a paw reaching in on several pages. Could it be that a bear is having a huge effect on Ella's book on the sly?

Leila Rudge does a great job tempering all the colors and activity in Ella's book against the pure white background. There are so many little details to take note of, but it's not the least bit overwhelming. There is action and adventure on every page, paired with adorable little patterned clothing (Ella's pink patterned shirt is my favorite) and clever little jokes tucked in everywhere.

Review copy provided by Candlewick Press.


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