A Bear is a Bear (except when he’s not)
Karl Newson and Anuska Allepuz
The adorable looking bear in this book appears to be suffering from amnesia as to his true animal form, brought about by forgetting that come December he’s supposed to be snuggled down inside his cave for the long winter hibernation.
Instead the ursine creature is bumbling around pondering possibilities: might he perhaps be a bird …
Oops no! He can’t fly and as for fitting in the nest – forget it!
If not that, then maybe … a moose? Lack of antlers and an aversion to dry grass quickly put paid to that notion.
What about a dancing prancing fox or even a squirrel? Those don’t feel quite right either.
Stuck up in a tree, bear ponders: “I’m not a squirrel – /they climb too high. // I’m not a fox – / but I gave it a try. // I’m not a moose – / I don’t know why. // And I’m not a bird. / I cannot fly. // So what, oh what / on earth am I?”
As snowflakes whirl around his head that Bear should really be in bed, especially as he is now suffering a bad attack of the grumps to go with his memory loss.
Suddenly realisation dawns … and off he goes to sleep till spring. Sweet dreams! Spring isn’t too far away.
Now, look who’s come a knocking to greet their friend …
Karl’s rhyming text takes the form of Bear’s internal monologue as he wanders hither and thither in his state of forgetfulness, and with its repeat refrain and cumulative structure, it’s a great ‘join in with’ read aloud.
To render her mixed media scenes of the increasingly wintry forest and its animal inhabitants, Anuska Alleppuz has used a carefully considered, beautifully textured palette that really makes readers feel they’re with Bear every step of his journey – the highs and the lows – both physical and mental.