The author presents facts about Asiatic black bears in an imaginative two-part format on each double spread. First, there is a question: i.e. “Who scuttles up the tree and bends back the branches?” Just below, set in italics, the author answers the question. The second sentence helps us learn that the MOON BEAR is sleepy, hungry, cautious, bold, curious, blissful, clever, grumpy, wandering, adventurous, happy, chubby, and finally hunger after hibernation. The responding sentence provides additional facts about the setting, the other inhabitants, and the life patterns of the bear. Despite the quantity of the information provided, the text remains both understated and lyrical.
The generously oversized format (11 ¼” h X 17”w) allows ample room for Ed Young’s elegantly simplified evocations of the brief text. As usual, he includes a variety of patterned papers that support his bold collages, but don’t call unnecessary attention to them. He engages the eye without the necessity of providing realistic details. For instance, the “Who scratches the birch tree…” page is a remarkable, nearly abstract close-up that leads the eye in a bold sweep across the double opening. The glossy coated paper intensifies the blackness of these bold depictions.
The book concludes with some additional information and photographs in the Author’s Notes.
Author: Brenda Guiberson
Illustrator: Ed Young
Publisher: Henry Holt, 2010
Reviewed by: John Stewig, Carthage College