Written and Illustrated by Benjamin Chaud
Chronicle Books, 2015
Deep in the forest, Little Bear awakens to the sounds of spring.
The plot in a nutshell: A bear searching for his parents finds a surprise.
Little Bear wakes up from hibernation and his parents are not around. The sun lights up a path in the forest and Little Bear follows it to a hole in a hillside. It takes him into a cave, where he enters a pipe that opens up near a circus tent. Little Bear enters the tent, intrigued by the sounds and smells of the circus, and he sees Papa Bear performing an aerial acrobatic act. Little Bear joins his papa on stage and leaps into the mouth of a Chinese dragon, which is actually a cannon that shoots him across the tent where he lands on Mama Bear. She’s holding a small box and when he peeks inside, he sees a tiny bear. Papa Bear joins them and they all do one final balancing act, which brings thunderous applause from the audience. Tired, they all return to the forest and Little Bear welcomes his new baby brother home.
This is the third book about these characters from author/illustrator Benjamin Chaud and it’s a lot of fun. In the first two books, Little Bear runs off and Papa Bear has to go find him, but this one turns the tables with Little Bear searching for his father. The text doesn’t take long to read, but you will probably spend lots of time with this book, looking at the illustrations. Most pages feature a die cut opening that shows us where Little Bear is going (or where he’s come from) and many of the pages feature hundreds of animals and characters and don’t be surprised if you wind up coming up with stories for them. There’s a lot going on here and it’s creatively presented, making this a really fun read.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that when you set out on any journey, you never know what awaits you at the end.