A young bear begins to make claw marks on the floor during his usual "how to be a bear" lessons. Soon he's collecting paper and drawing rocks, trees, clouds, birds, and even dinosaurs as he dreams of becoming an artist. With characteristic whimsey and lively watercolors, David McPhail portrays the unusual life of an artist who just happens to have been a bear, and tells how you can be an artist, too.
"Ages 4^-7. Reminiscing, a bear tells about his years as a cub, when he learned good skills and manners from his mother. He went to school for reading, writing, and arithmetic, and in every spare moment, he drew for the love of drawing. When he grew up, he received acclaim, awards, and offers of mansions and fancy cars because of his artistic skill, but he preferred to live as a bear in a cave, drawing and encouraging children to draw. Surely autobiographical in essence, McPhail's story provides a clear sense that a child's artistic skills will grow with encouragement, inspiration, and practice, practice, practice. The even tone of the text and the artwork springs from the bear-narrator's contentment, which comes not from material rewards, but from knowing who he is and doing what he loves. McPhail's deftly drawn pencil-and-watercolor illustrations of bears and children have a gentle charm all their own. The soft strokes of the pencil shading and the warm tones of the watercolor washes heighten the appeal of the compositions. An endearing picture book for children, and perhaps an inspiring one for those who love to draw. --Carolyn Phelan"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"In this uneven picture book about following one's muse, a bear artist remembers the time as a young cub when he discovered his passion for drawing. Divided into two sections, the first, more successful half focuses on the bear as cub, perfectly content with the " `being a bear' lessons" taught by his mother (which include how to sit up straight and how not to drool at the table)--until he develops a love of drawing. While his friends collect tasty treats at the town dump, the hero searches for scraps of paper for his artwork. Encouragement and steadfast support from his mother and teacher, and trips to the local museum, further fuel the bear's creative juices. In the second half, after a rather abrupt transition ("many years have passed"), the grown-up bear realizes that, even after garnering prizes and acclaim, his calling is best fulfilled living in his forest den and drawing pictures (and lighting a creative spark in his young friends). Though McPhail's moral is not as subtle or organic as in his recent Mole Music, his straight-to-the-heart message and inspirational tone make for a winning combination. His gently humorous watercolor-and-pencil compositions depict cozy, loving scenes of a very happy cubhood. Ages 4-8. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
|| Boston :Little, Brown,2000
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 26 cm