Sunday, June 5, 2016

June's Book of the Month--Mother Bruce

Hello! June’s Book of the Month is very funny MOTHER BRUCE, by Ryan T. HIggins.

Bruce is a bear who is a grump. Apparently, the only thing Bruce likes is eggs, cooked into fancy recipes (which he finds on the internet). One day, after gathering all the ingredients for a rather intricate recipe (boiled goose eggs drizzled with honey-salmon sauce), Bruce returns from restocking wood for his stove, only to find that the main part of his breakfast has hatched. And the cute little geese think he is their mama! Suffice it to say that while the goslings have immediately imprinted on Bruce, it takes more than a few pages for this particular bear to begin to embrace his new family.

I like how the author/illustrator jumps right in with his endpapers—we see Bruce’s forest home, even before the title page. So when the text actually begins, the scene has already been set. All we need now is that very grumpy bear. We can immediately learn about some of the things that Bruce does NOT like (sunny days, rain, and cute little animals). Also, the endpapers at the back of the story do nice job of playing us out, by depicting the Florida vacation spot this entire family has migrated to.

The text is clever and concise. The illustrations don’t merely portray what is stated, instead they add to the fun by telling a hefty share of the story. For example, when Bruce goes out to get ingredients for his ill-fated breakfast, he brings along a shopping cart—no matter that he’s going to pillage the neighborhood. And when his breakfast is ruined, the text never says that goslings have hatched. Instead they tell us he was met with an unwelcome surprise. And on and on. What the text leaves unsaid makes all the difference. It’s a terrific book to study how we can use words and pictures to make the whole greater than the sum of its parts. And funnier, too.

Kids will no doubt laugh their way through MOTHER BRUCE. I keep laughing, no matter how many times I read it. In fact, it only seems to get better.


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