Friday, October 26, 2018

Shelf Awareness--Got to Get to Bear's!

PB Review: Got to Get to Bear's!

Got to Get to Bear's! by Brian Lies (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $17.99 hardcover, 32p., ages 4-7, 9780544948822, October 30, 2018)

When Izzy, a chipmunk who lives in a cozy-looking home (complete with furniture, books and a tiny guitar), gets a note from Bear asking her to "[p]lease come at once!" she doesn't consider refusing. Izzy knows the summons must be important, because "Bear never ask[s] for anything." Even though the sky looks ominous, Izzy puts on her striped scarf, grabs a lantern and hurries out, just as the "flakes [begin] to flutter down." The snow continues to fall, piling "deeper and deeper and deeper" until, before long, Izzy finds herself stalled, up to her chest in snow.

Scritch (a squirrel in a green hoodie) comes by and asks Izzy where she's headed. On hearing that Bear wants to see the chipmunk right away, Scritch agrees that "if Bear asks you, you gotta go." The helpful squirrel invites Izzy to hop on board, exclaiming "we'll be there in a jiff!" The duo make great progress using the "treetop road" until the branches become too slippery with snow. Bingle the duck (sporting a knitted winter cap with earflaps and a pom pom) appears just in time, and insists that Izzy and Scritch pile on, because "[y]ou don't say 'no' to Bear!" Bingle flies them through the darkening "skyway" as the "wind [grows] wild, and snow [stings] their faces like tiny bees." Visibility decreases and the three come to a "sudden stop" on a snow-covered roof, and then the group is back to walking. They toil along in snow that's "too deep to waddle," until Snaffie (a raccoon in a sweater) catches up with them. Izzy, Scritch and Bingle ride the rest of the way on Snaffie's back, through the dark and increasingly treacherous storm. By the time Bear opens her door, only Izzy is visible above the snow line. But their teamwork has paid off, because Izzy, Scritch, Bingle and Snaffie are all present to share in the great surprise that awaits them in "the warmth of [Bear's] den."

Brian Lies (Bats at the Beach; The Rough Patch) illustrates his wintertime adventure in meticulous detail. His snow scenes, such as the one where Bingle flies through the darkening sky, perfectly convey the claustrophobic nature of a fierce winter storm. Fur and feathers are rendered with exquisite care, as are textures on the distinguishing pieces of cold-weather clothing each animal wears. The characters all have their own distinct personalities, but each is on board with the shared mission of persevering together toward their common goal: getting Izzy to Bear's house. Friendship, teamwork and an overall commitment to helpfulness give this story its warmhearted appeal. Subtle foreshadowing of the surprise will provide satisfaction during subsequent readings of this beautifully realized picture book, imbued with the gratifying sentiment that "[n]o matter how steep or tough the climb, a friend is worth it, every time!" --Lynn Becker, blogger and host of Book Talk, a monthly online discussion of children's books for SCBWI.

Shelf Talker: When Bear asks Izzy to come over "at once," Izzy and her three friends, Scritch, Bingle and Snaffie, brave a dark and stormy night to get there.

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