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Sunday, February 24, 2013

A Birthday for Bear, written by Bonny Becker and illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton. Candlewick Press, Random House. 2009. $20.00 ages 4 and up

"I do not like parties.
I do not like birthdays.
And I especially do not
like birthday parties for
me at my house." Bear
announced, and he swept
Mouse out the door.
Slop! Slop! Slop!
Bear mopped the hallway."

Oh, I am delighted that Candlewick published this wonderful book again; this time in an illustrated format that matches the other three in the series. Those others include: A Visitor for Bear (Candlewick, 2008), A Bedtime for Bear (Candlewick, 2010) and The Sniffles for Bear (Candlewick, 2011). If you are looking for a great gift at any time for beloved little ones, this package would be perfect...each presents a great friendship with wonderful characters involved in everyday events and the warm, charming and very witty watercolor, ink and gouache illustrations of the remarkable Kady MacDonald Denton.

Bear is too busy to acknowledge that is is his birthday...that's just the way he wants it to be. He is averse to any celebration. Mouse is determined to party with his friend. With each new attempt to make it special, Mouse comes face to face with a furious and fretful Bear who wants no part of  such shenanigans.  As is wont to happen, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Bear finally succumbs to the deliberate and lovely attempts to make his day better. A cake on the step is the piece de resistance, and Bear, with careful consideration of his surroundings, takes the cake inside:

"Bear glanced around, then lifted out the cake. He swiped a pawful of creamy icing and was just about to plop it in his mouth, when -

Out of the cake popped Mouse! Small and gray and bright-eyed!"

He wants to complain, but Bear does not. Rather, he accepts his friend's clear delight and his gifts with aplomb. Party on, dudes!

There are no chapters here (as there were in the original version) and that allows the story to flow and the full page artwork to enhance the characters, their setting and their friendship. There is delight in the details, and warmth in the oft-changing expressions. Don't miss Bear pulling himself up 'to his full height' or his furtive sleuth work to be sure there is no one around to see him bring the cake inside...too funny!

Here's to loving.and persistent friendship!

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