Pup and Bear by Kate Banks, Illus. by Naoko Stoop, N.Y., Schwartz Wade Books, $23.99
Just like any small child, Baby Bear revels in boisterous activities like hide-and-seek and his understanding mother buys into the game whole-heartedly.
Each double-page spread shows Baby Bear hiding rather ineptly while on the subsequent pages he playfully reveals his hiding places. That this is done to a not-very-surprised mom is made clear by her sly glances towards his chosen spots.
Baby Bear is oblivious and clearly feels that he has been wildly successful in fooling her. Mom’s love and concern for her child’s happiness shines through this moonlit tale.
The linoleum block print and water-colour illustrations glow with the reflected moonlight and the forest animals that benevolently look on the interactions between mother and child bring even more warmth to this cosy picture book. Baby Bear Sees Blue and Baby Bear Counts One are the two previous titles in this series for very young children.
The theme that one good turn deserves another is ably realized in Banks’ picture book about a wolf cub who grows up to reciprocate the kind act of his rescuer.
When an Arctic wolf cub finds himself lost far from the pack he is nudged by a polar bear who says, “I am not your mother but I can cuddle you and keep you safe.” She repeats this refrain as she shelters the cub and teaches him to survive in the wide world.
Eventually, the now-adult wolf finds a polar bear cub who needs to be rescued. He tells the cub to climb onto his back so that he can take him to his den and care for him. The lyrical text describes the nature of the Arctic landscape and the changing cycle of life.
In the equally lovely illustrations, softly outlined creatures wander through muted backgrounds similar to Japanese woodcuts in their simplicity.
Another winner from an award-winning writer.
Fran Ashdown was the children’s librarian at the Capilano branch of the North Vancouver District Public Library. She likes to see the bears that sometimes wander through her yard. For more information check your local libraries.