Baby Bear
Baby Bear
Kadir Nelson
ISBN 9780062241726
Balzer + Bray/ HarperCollins, 2014.
5 stars
Keywords: baby-bear friendship kadir-nelson serenity spiritual-journey

Baby Bear
by Kadir Nelson

Kadir Nelson's (Heart and Soul) exquisite picture book follows a bear cub lost at night, who finds his way home with the guidance of his fellow woodland friends.

"Excuse me, dear Mountain Lion. I'm lost. Can you help me find my way home?" says Baby Bear. Mountain Lion responds, "When I am lost I try to retrace my steps." Frog suggests the bear "trust himself." And in a humorous exchange, two squirrels advise him to "hug a tree and think of home." Each animal Baby Bear encounters offers words of wisdom, but the hero ultimately must make his way alone. Nelson shows the many-faceted colors of the night in spectacular oil paintings. As a full moon moves across the sky, the backgrounds shift from the midnight blue behind the mountain lion bathed in a tangerine glow to the emerald green moonlight of a night sky filtered through forest leaves, as Moose approaches Baby Bear. At the story's climax, a white owl that matches the moonbath of light below assures Baby Bear that he is not alone: "I am here with you." As Baby Bear looks up at the night sky, his eyes reflect back the moon, and the expression is one of pure trust and faith.

This book will resonate with children starting their first day of school or moving to a new home. It's a story readers may return to again and again, as they face times of great challenge or transition.

This review first appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers.
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