The Bear and the Star

Greenwillow/HarperCollins/. Sept. 2019. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062660374.
PreS-Gr 3–When a bear awakes one December and discovers a new star, he follows it until he finds a magnificent evergreen tree and then summons animals and people from across the world to gather beneath its branches. Bear sends its roar “through canyon and valley” and “over sea and peak.” Heeding the call, which grows ever louder, animals from far and wide stream toward the tree. People come, too, many bearing candles, instruments, and other gifts. They come “from city and farm,/across ocean and desert,…/because it’s time…for peace.” The lyrical text is written in poem format and filled with compound objects such as “mask and drum” and “scroll and shawl.” Many are alliterative. The beautiful oil paintings are all double-page bleeds, many on star-speckled blue backdrops amid falling snow. Semi-circular swishes of color along with yellow dots in the center and pink-dotted rays represent the star. Landscapes change as Bear’s message reaches people in different parts of the world. There is so much to see, including a bird, bright red wings outspread, bearing an olive branch, a symbol of the message in the text’s final word. The tree appears huge, bleeding off the page, surrounded by animals and people, and finally, in miniature atop the world.
VERDICT Because it is suitable for readers of different faiths or even as a plea for peace, this is a perfect choice for all holiday collections. The symbols of the tree, the star, the gifts, and other aspects of the story are best appreciated through group discussion.

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