Written by Bonny Becker, Illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton
Candlewick Press, 2008
No one ever came to Bear’s house. It had always been that way, and Bear was quite sure he didn’t like visitors.
The plot in a nutshell: A solitary bear copes with an unexpected visitor
One morning, Bear hears a knock at his door and opens it to find a mouse. He tells the mouse to go away, points out his ‘No Visitors’ sign and goes back to making breakfast. But when he goes to get a bowl, the mouse is in his cupboard, wondering if they could have some tea. Bear kicks him out. But when he goes to the bread drawer, he finds the mouse again. Bear yells at him to leave and locks the door and windows after him. He opens the refrigerator and there is the mouse again, suggesting a fire to warm them up. Bear yells and the mouse apologizes before leaving. Bear boards up the windows and checks the kitchen carefully, not finding the mouse anywhere. Satisfied, he goes to make some tea and, of course, the mouse is in the teakettle, suggesting some cheese, tea and a fire. Bear agrees, as long as the mouse agrees to leave afterwards. As they have tea, Bear strikes up a conversation with the mouse, who compliments his fire. Bear realizes he enjoys having someone there to talk with and finds himself sad when the mouse says he has to go. Bear asks him to stay and the mouse points out the sign, which Bear rips up as he says it is for salesmen, not for friends. The two friends go back in and finish their tea.
Author Bonny Becker states that she wrote this book because of a persistent mouse character that kept popping up in her head. Obviously the mouse and his bear friend stuck around in her head, because she’s written three other books about them since this one. The story just screams to be read aloud, with different voices for both characters, since they are such beautifully contrasting and well-defined characters. The pacing of the story works so well, setting up the mouse’s appearance over and over.
In addition to the contrasting personalities, the difference in size and the physicality of Bear trying to mouse-proof his house both add a lot of humor to the story. Kady MacDonald Denton’s illustrations, in ink, watercolor and gouache, strike a perfect balance between lovely and hilarious. I adore her use of color in the background fabrics and patterns of Bear’s house and the facial expressions on our two characters are wonderful. I imagine that children will love to hear this story over and over, especially those children who may share Bear’s anti-social nature.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that the only way to ever have any new or life-changing experiences is being willing to break your traditions once in a while.