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Friday, June 22, 2012

NO BEARS, written by Meg McKinlay and illustrated by Leila Rudge. Candlewick Press, Random House. 2011. $18.00 ages 6 and up

“You need pretty things.
You need fairies and princesses
and castles.
You need funny things,
exciting things,
and scary things--
maybe a monster
or a giant or something.”

It seems that Ella is tired of having bears in her storybooks. So, she's going to write her own and you can bet that there will not be ONE bear in it. She knows what you do to write a story, and she knows that bears are not part of that equation. So, NO BEARS!

Ella is a girl with gumption. She's young but she knows how to get what she it yourself!
She even has a 'bear book recycling bin' and she uses it for stories titled 'Bears', 'Paws' and 'Grizzly'. As she places them in the bin, she doesn't seem to notice the bear leaning against the back of that same bin, leisurely reading a book about bees...mmm! honey!

Ella has a multitude of story ideas and she quickly gets to constructing her tale. It has to do with many familiar elements of a fairy tale. There are no bears. There is, however, a MONSTER!
The monster is pretty scary and persistent in his pursuit of the princess. When he finally steals her, she finds herself in need of a rescuer. Once safe, her return is celebrated with a party and all is well! Who saved the lovely princess?

In this story within a story, children will have a chance to test their visual acuity...and their fairy tale knowledge. The pages are filled with charming, quirky artwork that will have them poring over every fine detail. The palette of colors is muted, the surprises on every page will inspire talk and great delight as the humor is shared by one and all. See if you can see the many images that may or may not be familiar to our youngest readers. Visuals from known fairy tales and nursery rhymes can be found on every page. Ella's story is told in a coil-bound notebook. Leila Rudge's lively illustrations drag our attention to the outer borders and to the white space that surrounds that book.

Of course, there is a bear...a very special wish-granting, life-saving bear. While Ella continues in her belief that no bear will find a place in this book, you know that kids who cannot help themselves will pointing out that the bear is RIGHT THERE! It won't spoil the humor, the charm and the great fun to be had when sharing this wonderful book.

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