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Monday, October 31, 2011

Bear with Me, written and illustrated by Max Kornell. G.P. Putnam's, Penguin. 2011. $20.00 ages 4 and up

"Then one day my mom and dad
brought home a surprise. I don't
like surprises. Surprises are never
as good as you hoped for.
They said they always wanted
a bear. They said now the family
was complete. I thought the
family was already complete.
The bear's name was Gary."

This is an inventive way to open the conversation about the arrival of a new sibling. Owen loves the life he leads with his parents. He is content and has all things needed, as far as he is concerned. Seems that his parents are not so happy with the way of things. So, they get a bear!

It strikes a blow at Owen. He did not ask for a bear, and he is not pleased with its presence. There is no room for conversation. Gary is here to stay...and to share a room, and to enjoy all of Owen's toys. There is no leeway and Owen is not enthused. When it comes to sharing his parents' attention, the same rules apply. Gary needs to go for a walk right when Owen wants help with his kite flying. You get the picture...

It is everything Gary at Owen's house. Owen is having a tough time adjusting. Gary doesn't know the rules of the house and chaos ensues. Dried up markers, and broken swings are the worst of it. Dejected and lonely Owen takes some time out. Gary joins him, then offers an olive branch. With cooperation the two learn important lessons.

It takes time but it appears to be worth it!

Max Kornell uses ink, watercolor and acrylics to create the artwork that accompanies his story. His use of bright colors and pretty simple lines seem to be just right. He is able to make Gary look overpowering without being so. Despite his very large size, Gary suffers the same insecurities that Owen does with their new arrangement. The artist is adept at showing those feelings. I love the wordless parts that let the reader and listener create their own small take in this story of sibling rivalry.

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