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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Sniffles for Bear, written by Bonny Becker and illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton. Candlewick, Random House. 2011. $19.00 ages 3 and up

"Mouse, small and gray and bright-eyed, bustled into Bear's living room. Bear huddled in his chair. Big and brown and sniffly-snouted. He had a terrible cold. "I am come," declared Mouse.
"You'll soon be as good as new!" Bear frowned."

Here's another on that 'can they keep it going?' list. Can they? You bet they CAN...and they do! Bonny Becker and Kady MacDonald Denton team up to delight and charm us, once again.

It warms my heart to meet up with these caring friends once more...this time, Bear has a 'man-cold'. (Craig, you will know exactly what I mean!):

"Bear was sick, very, very sick.
His eyes were red. His snout was red.
His throat was sore and gruffly.
In fact, Bear was quite sure no one
had ever been as sick as he."

The poor guy! As we have come to expect from Mouse, he arrives with verve, positive energy and a great deal of tenacity in light of Bear's 'full of whine' demeanor. While Bear languishes in his fireside chair, feet up, tissue at the ready and blanketed  from head to toe, Mouse does his level best to bring some levity and sunshine to the day. Bear is not to be sidetracked from his pity party.

Mouse tries reading; it is too bright and uplifting. Not acceptable for such a grave situation. A song? Not dirge-like enough, too frivolous in the wake of the severity of Bear's illness. Not one to give up easily, Mouse tries banjo picking. It seems the only thing for it is to take to his bed. In a wonderful double page center spread, Mouse helps the almost supine, bordering on comatose, Bear up the stairs.

I read the words first; a tough job, but someone has to do it! Bonny Becker continues to create these guys with unmistakable voices and characters to match. Their friendship is tried and true. Despite their differences, they care for each other and deal with the foibles that are part of any strong relationship.  After reading it twice, I went back to look carefully at the artwork.

Storybooks for the young are not up to snuff if the text AND illustrations don't have punch. It is only when both are incomparable that we can call it a best book. Of course, that determination is highly personal. For me, this is another of those books that needs to be on every child's personal library shelf.

Kady MacDonald Denton uses watercolor, gouache and ink with her characteristic aplomb. She is so skilled at creating treasured moments in her telling of this story. The fireplace, the thermometer in a glass, the hot water bottle, and the full-of-tissue waste basket have readers building story before they turn from the introductory page. Little children notice such things and bring their previous experience to their understanding of what is happening. The charm in the many details, the muted palette and the ever-changing expressive faces add humor and depth to that understanding. Do I have a favorite? Impossible. I love everything about this newest tale of friendship. 

What a delight!

1 comment:

  1. Bonny Becker is so amazingly talented. Thanks for this great post!