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Monday, December 18, 2017

Pup and Bear, written by Kate Banks and illustrated by Naoko Stoop. Schwartz and Wade, Random House. 2017. $23.99 ages 4 and up

"The pup slid into the water.
He swam and he swam.
When he reached land,
he burrowed into a

He was tired and he
wanted his mother."

Kate Banks has written some of my favorite books. She knows what children love to hear. Young readers will immediately feel empathy toward the pup , alone in a freezing cold, white world. The wolves know the cold is coming and take shelter. But, when warm weather thaws their world, one tiny pup is left behind floating on a piece of ice. Luckily he finds landfall, but he is alone. No mother, no pack, no one to care for him.

When a polar comes along, the pup knows he is in danger. The bear makes him a promise:

"I am not your mother," said the polar bear,
"but I can cuddle you and keep you safe."

The pup is reassured despite misgivings, and accepts the help he needs. The mother bear does all she can to comfort and keep the pup healthy. She shows him all he needs to know throughout spring and summer. They are a fine pair.

With the passing of winter and the arrival of another spring, the bear knows it is time to send the grown wolf off to find a life of his own. He does that, with his own pack ... until the day he finds a lost polar bear cub during a snowstorm. He follows suit and cares for the cub. So, life goes. It is a 'wondrous' thing.

It is a heartfelt tale of adoption, family, and kindness. The text is not wordy, yet perfectly tells a tale that will resonate with those who share it. Sure to garner feelings of warmth and wonder, it is perfect for reading in early years classrooms.

Naoko Stoop uses acrylic paint, ink, pencil and pastels on plywood, then finishes the art digitally to create the windswept cold of the arctic landscape. Other animals of the tundra are included in her horizontal spreads. They are a perfect match for this quiet and telling tale.

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