Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Picture Book Review: The Bear Who Wasn't There by LeUyen Pham

The Bear Who Wasn't There by Le Uyen Pham. unpgd. Roaring Brook Press, November, 2016. 9781596439702. (Review from finished copy borrowed from public library)

When I glimpsed this on display at my local library, I thought it was a remake of The Bear That Wasn't.* Turns out this delightful little romp is something entirely different.

This book is supposed to be about a bear only, he doesn't show up. An opportunistic mallard pops up everywhere from the cover to the front jacket to the final end page to dis the bear and to promote himself and his own book, The Duck Who Showed Up.

HILARIOUS! This is one you will have so much fun reading aloud and you won't mind reading it again when your audience begs for an encore, or two or three.

A variety of animals comment on whether or not the bear is here, has been here, or will be here. There are clues. Brown footprints seem to indicate that there is a bear. Duck insists that bears are unreliable. There's also an "anonymouse" prankster who points the way to where the bear surely will be. Build in some wait-time as your audience will need some time to roll on the floor laughing.

There's wordplay and visual humor. The author is even dragged reluctantly into the story. This is a barrel of mixed-media, metafictive fun! The ending happens on the final end-page and folks who borrow the book from a library that decides to tape the cover firmly in place will have trouble viewing the resolution and final joke. 

The Bear Who Wasn't There is a great addition to most collections and will sure to be a read aloud favorite.

*The Bear That Wasn't by Frank Tashlin, a satire written in 1946.

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