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Review of Horrible Bear!

spring_dyckman_horrible bearHorrible Bear!
by Ame Dyckman; 
illus. by Zachariah OHora
Preschool, Primary    Little, Brown    40 pp.
4/16    978-0-316-28283-3    $16.99

The action begins on the title-page spread, with a little red-haired girl standing on the bottom of the left-hand page. She’s flying a kite — and she’s frowning. The kite is high up in the sky, on top of the right-hand page, and — SNAP! — the string is broken in the middle. Turn the page to see the girl peeking into a mountaintop cave where the kite has landed…on a snoozing bear. When she tries to retrieve the kite — CRUNCH! — the bear rolls over and breaks it. Not one to let sleeping bears lie, the girl gets all up in his face, waking the startled creature by shouting: “HORRIBLE BEAR!” Then she storms off down the mountain, through the meadow (and a goat’s picnic), and into her house, where she stews some more. Meanwhile, the put-out bear (“I’M not horrible! SHE barged in! SHE made a ruckus! SHE woke ME up!”) formulates his revenge. After some practice barging and ruckus-making, he stomps down to the girl’s house, ready to wake her up — and unprepared for the apology he receives. Dyckman and OHora’s lively conflict-resolution-in-picture-book’s-clothing is as entertaining as it is instructive. The spare narration lets the shouty dialogue do most of the talking, and it’s hilarious in that way angry children can be without knowing it. OHora’s acrylic illustrations, with their thick black lines and subdued hues (forest green, orangey-red, not-too-bright yellow, lavender, and teal), enhance the humor, with that cloud of curly red hair seemingly having a mind of its own.

From the March/April 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Elissa Gershowitz About Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is executive editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons College and a BA from Oberlin College.

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