Review of Where Can We Go?: A Tale of Four Bears

Where Can We Go?: A Tale of Four Bears Where Can We Go?: A Tale of Four Bears
by Dai Yun; illus. by Igor Oleynikov; adapted by Helen Mixter
Primary    Aldana Libros/Greystone Kids    40 pp.
9/23    9781771649810    $18.95

After returning to his family with just one small fish, a father polar bear announces that they will have to move and find a place with more food resources. The four bears wander into a city, where they happily discover the dumpsters overflowing with treats. Then, seeking a place to sleep, they notice things that “look a lot like square icebergs” (apartment buildings) and move right into one. All is well until the food runs out. The bears look through the books in their new home hoping to get ideas about where to go next. They see images that tempt them—polar bears in a zoo; a snowy prehistoric scene complete with woolly mammoth; a moonscape—but decide, after watching a television program on Antarctica, to head there for the huge icebergs, tasty penguins and seals, and ice fields. First published in China, the story has the rhythm and spare text of an oral tale. “‘I need a rest!’ says Papa. ‘I need more food!’ says Misha. ‘I need to sleep!’ says Masha. ‘This looks just right!’ says Mama.” Oleynikov uses a scratchy, textured style to give his atmospheric paintings depth. The polar bears are expressive and sometimes quite funny. Author and illustrator handle some heavy themes with a deft, light touch.

From the September/October 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Maeve Visser Knoth

Maeve Visser Knoth is a librarian at Phillips Brooks School, Menlo Park, ­California. She has chaired the Notable Children’s Books Committee and taught at Notre Dame de Namur University and Lesley University.

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