Review of There Are No Bears in This Bakery

There Are No Bears in This Bakery
by Julia Sarcone-Roach; illus. by the author
Preschool, Primary    Knopf    40 pp.
1/19    978-0-399-55665-4    $17.99
Library ed.  978-0-399-55666-1    $20.99
e-book ed.  978-0-399-55667-8    $10.99

Sarcone-Roach’s previous bear-centric picture book, The Bear Ate Your Sandwich (rev. 1/15), featured an unreliable offstage narrator, a cover-up, and — spoiler alert — no bears. Here, she flips the script with a narrator who faithfully recounts an eventful and — despite the title — bear-filled night. Orange tabby Muffin keeps watch over the city neighborhood after dark: “If it flutters, scurries, or scampers here, I know about it.” On the evening in question, Muffin hears a strange new rumbling sound while on patrol. After checking the alley for the usual suspects (mice, raccoons, bats), Muffin follows the grrr inside the bakery — the Little Bear Bakery. Surprise! The sound is coming from the belly of an actual (and hungry) little bear. The illustrations’ nighttime scenes are bathed in rich blues and blacks, with cool white moonlight and yellow streetlights adding shadows and just enough suspenseful atmosphere. A generous dollop of similes in Muffin’s account keeps the tone light: “I slipped into the darkness like icing melting down a hot cake.” Muffin’s gumshoe persona is more soft-hearted than hard-boiled, especially when the watchcat’s friendly response to the hungry intruder is to offer baked goods. The remainder of the night involves another, bigger bear; a bear hug (“I was smooshed, like a muffin between the couch cushions”); a lot more treats; and, in the morning, one dismayed baker. You can’t argue with the feline detective, though. There aren’t any bears in this bakery. “Not anymore.”

From the March/April 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.
Kitty Flynn
Kitty Flynn is consulting editor for The Horn Book, Inc.

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