Horrible Bear!

Horrible Bear! illus. by Zachariah OHora. 40p. Little, Brown. Apr. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780316282833; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780316271233.
RedReviewStarPreS-Gr 2—In the mind of a child, mistakes are often misinterpreted as malfeasance, and the resultant anger can be contagious. Dyckman writes a simple story about just such a mistake. A little girl loses her kite in a bear's den, and when he rolls over in his sleep, he crushes it and becomes a HORRIBLE BEAR! Though the little girl seems to have some strategies to deal with anger (reading, painting, talking it out), it isn't until she mistakenly tears her own stuffed animal's ear that she gets some clarity about what really happened in that cave, and in her heart. Meanwhile, the bear is trying out his own righteous anger, charging to the little girl's house for a stand-off. A simple "I'm sorry" turns horrible into sweet. In reality, such spontaneous forgiveness and acceptance are rare, but cutting to the chase does readers no harm here. OHora's acrylic paint on paper illustrations are vivid and childlike. Thick black lines miraculously convey a range of emotions, and the girl's pile of bright red hair with black curlicues serves as a metaphor for both her anger and her exuberance. Molly Bang's Sophie finally has a worthy shelf-mate for absolutely spot-on characterizations of mood.
VERDICT Highly recommended for picture book collections.—Lisa Lehmuller, Paul Cuffee Maritime Charter School, Providence, RI
A snoozing bear breaks a little girl's kite (CRUNCH!). The girl wakes the creature by shouting "HORRIBLE BEAR!" then storms off. The put-out bear stomps down to the girl's house, ready to wake her up--and he's unprepared for the apology he receives. This lively conflict-resolution-in-picture-book's-clothing is as entertaining as it is instructive. OHora's acrylic illustrations with thick black lines enhance the humor.
The action begins on the title-page spread, with a little red-haired girl standing on the bottom of the left-hand page. She's flying a kite -- and she's frowning. The kite is high up in the sky, on top of the right-hand page, and -- SNAP! -- the string is broken in the middle. Turn the page to see the girl peeking into a mountaintop cave where the kite has landed...on a snoozing bear. When she tries to retrieve the kite -- CRUNCH! -- the bear rolls over and breaks it. Not one to let sleeping bears lie, the girl gets all up in his face, waking the startled creature by shouting: "HORRIBLE BEAR!" Then she storms off down the mountain, through the meadow (and a goat's picnic), and into her house, where she stews some more. Meanwhile, the put-out bear ("I'M not horrible! SHE barged in! SHE made a ruckus! SHE woke ME up!") formulates his revenge. After some practice barging and ruckus-making, he stomps down to the girl's house, ready to wake her up -- and unprepared for the apology he receives. Dyckman and OHora's lively conflict-resolution-in-picture-book's-clothing is as entertaining as it is instructive. The spare narration lets the shouty dialogue do most of the talking, and it's hilarious in that way angry children can be without knowing it. OHora's acrylic illustrations, with their thick black lines and subdued hues (forest green, orangey-red, not-too-bright yellow, lavender, and teal), enhance the humor, with that cloud of curly red hair seemingly having a mind of its own. elissa gershowitz

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