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Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Very Itchy Bear, written and illustrated by Nick Bland. Scholastic Canada, 2011. $14.99 ages 3 and up

"This is Flea
biting Bear
under here
and over there.


Hilarity ensues when a tiny flea simply wanting to say 'hello' does so by biting Bear. All does not go well following those tiny bites! Itching like crazy, Bear stumbles over a tree stump and tumbles down a grassy knoll and lands in the and all. Finding safety on a floating log, Bear has time to wonder what has happened to Flea.

Finding Flea still aboard his bearskin, Bear flicks him far out to sea leaving each of them alone in a new and frightening world. When Bear sights a bird overhead and notes that its intention is to make a meal of Flea, he has a change of heart. Swiftly swimming to Flea's rescue, he protects him from the bird's beak. Flea is ever so thankful and puts a stop to chewing on his new friend. That makes for a fine and lasting relationship.

The artwork perfectly matches the action-filled antics of a burly bear and his nemesis...a bear-biting bug intent on saying hello. The rhythmic language will soon have young listeners chanting along. There is fun here, but there is also compassion and friendship, letting readers know that compromise can be reached despite initial difficulties. I guarantee requests for another reading...and then a third, and a fourth and so on, and so on. It's great fun, and you won't be sorry to share it again!    

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