Subscribe to The Horn Book

Review of Grin and Bear It

Grin and Bear It
by Leo Landry; illus. by the author
Primary     Charlesbridge     48 pp.
7/11     978-1-57091-745-5     $12.95
e-book ed. 978-1-60734-303-5     $9.99

“Bear had a dream. His dream was to make his friends laugh.” But poor Bear has stage fright, and his debut appearance on the Woodland Stage flops. Despondent, Bear goes to the local watering hole, orders a root beer, and says to himself: “What’s the use? I’ll never tell another joke again.” But when hummingbird Emmy, a gifted performer but lousy writer, finds Bear’s crumpled-up list of jokes, she perceives its comedic genius and regales the crowd with an impromptu performance. Bear’s friends, recognizing his work, introduce the two and thus create a symbiotic partnership between two comedians with different skills. There are as many jokes in this book for newly independent readers as small carrots in a class of first graders’ lunch boxes, including puns (“What do little girl cubs wear in their hair? Bear-ettes!”) and play with multiple-meaning words (“What do you get when a bear walks through your vegetable garden? Squash!”) And, like any good joke, several bear repeating, thus speeding up the reading task. Seven chapters divide the narrative into small segments, while the numerous pencil and watercolor illustrations (both full-page and spot art) clarify the action and add depth to characterization. For example, when Bear appears on stage, his deer-in-the-headlights portrait perfectly complements the alliterative text: “His knees knocked. His paws paused. His fur froze.” A honey of a book.

From the September/October 2011 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

About Betty Carter

Betty Carter, an independent consultant, is professor emerita of children’s and young adult literature at Texas Woman’s University.

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind