A Brave Bear

illus. by Emily Hughes. 32p. Candlewick. Apr. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763682248.
PreS-Gr 1—A young bear tells about a trip to the river with Dad and his attempt to demonstrate his jumping skills. It's such a hot day that the cub suggests that he and his dad go to the river to cool off. The trip is long, though, with grassy and bushy parts and many rocks to negotiate. Anxious to show his dad how he can do a big jump, the little one ignores his parent's advice to "just do small" ones, gets himself ready, and falls over. His failure makes the cub sad, his knee hurts, and he's so hot that he doesn't even want to go to the river. Dad proposes they sit for awhile, and when they do continue their journey, the youngster walks bravely on by himself, refusing his father's offer to carry him. Taylor's brilliant text offers no moralizing or attempts by Dad to force his son to continue on before he is ready. Hughes's illustrations, created in pencil and digitally colored, depict a range of expressions on the bears' faces: their animated, attentive conversation; young bear's determination to display his skills and his frown at failure; Dad's comforting expression; and the obvious enjoyment the two share as they play together in the water. An orange sun shines in large swaths of yellow-red sky, suffusing forest scenes with palpable heat.
VERDICT The brief text and the message that bravery is simply carrying on in spite of failure make this a fine offering for youngsters just trying their wings.

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