Written and Illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Balzer + Bray, 2014
Excuse me, dear Mountain Lion. I’m lost.
The plot in a nutshell: A baby bear tries to find his way home.
Mountain Lion suggests that Baby Bear retrace his steps in order to get back home. He tries heading back the way he thinks he came and then meets Frog, who tells him to trust himself and not be afraid. The squirrels tell him they hug a tree and think of home when they are lost. He thinks it’s silly, but does it anyway and Moose comes along to help, telling him to follow his heart, which will lead him home. Ram suggests that he get to higher ground so he can see farther and maybe sing a song to keep his spirits up. Owl hears his song and recommends following the moon. Salmon tells him he’s very close and offers to show him the way, as long Baby Bear won’t eat him. Baby Bear swims across the river and can see his home.
Author/illustrator Kadir Nelson tells a pretty simple story here and pairs it with absolutely gorgeous artwork. I like that the advice that he gets from all the different animals reflects a little something about the animal giving the advice and yet, it all helps to lead him home, showing how every person in your life can have their own piece of the puzzle. The illustrations are done in oil paint and they all set these characters against a dark blue sky with a beautiful yellow moon overhead that practically serves as an extra character in the story. All of the animals are gorgeously drawn, with expressive faces and kind eyes. I would have liked to see Baby Bear reunited with his family at the end instead of just seeing his home from a distance, but that’s a small squabble for an otherwise beautiful book.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that in any good community, you can always get the help you need to find your way.