The Bear and the Moon
Matthew Burgess and Cátia Chien
Chronicle Children’s Books
A little bear wakes after a long sleep and spies something floating in the sky. At first it’s just a red dot, but as it comes closer he notices more; ‘red as a berry / and round like the moon / with a silver string drifting brightly in the breeze.’ Being of an investigative nature the bear goes to discover what he can. The two are soon engaged in a pas de deux
lasting till evening when the bear stops to eat and then settles down with his companion in the glowing moonlight.
Next morning though the two are soon up and about once more with bear rolling, sitting and cavorting with his new friend until … disaster. An over-enthusiastic bear hug ends the balloon’s life rendering it a scattering of red pieces, one attached to the silver string.
As evening comes Bear is left devastated. And full of guilt: ‘Bad bear, / he thought. / Bad, bad bear.’ With the night though as he swims miserably across the creek,
comes another gift from the sky to bring comfort and cheer as it ‘reached down to him and gently stroked his fur.’ And all is well once more: loving memories endure …
Written in spare, gentle words, Matthew Burgess’ poetic allegorical text is both potent and poignant, highlighting the power of friendship, and of loss. In artist Cátia Chien he has the perfect collaborator. Her mixed media illustrations with those changing viewpoints and colours, are sublime, and finely tuned to the changing moods of bear, from the delight of discovery right through to mourning and finally, acceptance (of self and of loss), and healing. Simply, beautiful.