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Sunday, November 7, 2010

NO, written and illustrated by Claudia Rueda.

""There's no food to eat," said mother bear.
"I saved some berries," said little bear.

"Winter is very long," said mother bear.
"I don't mind if it's long," said little bear."

You don't need elaborate pictures or a plethora of words to tell a story! But, you may need experience with independent toddlers and young children to understand the subtlety of this one. They know their minds; and if you have ever been privy to a temper tantrum, you know their determination when they are trying out those wings of independence.

Little bear is not unlike any 'child' his age. It's winter and his mother is trying hard to get him to hunker down and escape the harsh cold that the season brings. He doesn't want to go to sleep. It seems that no argument is strong enough to convince him otherwise. Mother bear is persistent, a trait that she has passed on to her young cub. For every reason she gives, he has an argument. Finally, she does what all mothers must do. She lets him try those wings on his own, despite the coming storm. There is a lesson to be learned here.

Little bear is excited and delighted. He frolics and builds a snowman as the snow continues to fall. As the winds increase and the storm asserts its power that snowman disappears. The same happens to one small bear who has finally learned his first winter lesson. Calling his 'Mamma!!!', he finds the way to their nearby winter den and softly allays his mother's fears of loneliness without him during the long, cold season.

The story is simple, and the pictures aptly match its tone. Double-page spreads show the true wonder and force of the season. The artwork is done in grays and white, and reflect the cold environment. While the setting is necessarily severe and uncomfortable, there is warmth and solace to be had for this small bear and his mother...they find it together. This lively story helps young readers renew their belief that security can be found within the warm circle that is family, and that we all need to test the waters to find our limits.

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