Bear Outside

Holiday House/Neal Porter. Mar. 2021. 32p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780823446131.
PreS-Gr 2–A young girl explains how she wears her bear, an imaginary helpmate, outside herself to help her navigate the challenges of the day. She can walk confidently past bullies, answer classroom questions, and succeed at bike-riding and roller-skating. Together she and Bear explore the outdoors and create works of art. Her understanding mother supports the relationship with small gestures such as leaving the night light on for Bear, who is afraid of the dark. The success of this simple story of a child’s summoning of inner strength lies in Corace’s gouache and line illustrations. The large brown bear encircles and protects the narrator, seamlessly incorporating the girl inside its movements and gestures. While the narrator and her mother are both white, the playground, classroom, and store include people with skin tones from beige to dark brown.
VERDICT This low-key story encourages viewers to find inner resources for dealing with ordinary challenges, and could help provide children with a structure for contemplating their own armor.

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