This month is Picture Book Month for those who love picture books, and Picture Book Idea Month if you are on the writing or illustrating end of picture books. Continuing with that theme is a wonderful, heartfelt picture book by Daniel Pinkwater and Will Hillenbrand.
Written by Daniel Pinkwater
Illustrated by Will Hillenbrand
Candlewick Press 12/08/2015
40 pages Ages 4—8
“The bear and the bunny like to wander in the woods, look for things to eat, sing songs, and talk things over. One day, the bunny asks the bear, “Why do we not have a pet?” But a pinecone is not the right pet for a bear and a bunny. And neither is a caterpillar. After a nice nap in the woods, will these two find their perfect pet?” [inside jacket]
First, let me apologize. The review is long, but I promise it is worth reading.
Bear and Bunny are the closest of friends and the sweetest of friends. It would be difficult to read this beautiful picture book and not feel that these two characters are the sweetest in the picture book world. For starters, the two friends respect each other. They ask about each other’s day and listen attentively to the answer. Bear and Bunny actually care about each other, proving a family is what you make, not necessarily what you are born into.
Bear and Bunny wander around the woods near their homes—Bear in a cave, Bunny in a hole—singing made up songs and enjoying each other and the day. They even sing during the times each is alone. Bunny likes to sing,
I wonder where
I wonder where my big bunny is.”
Bear sings a similar tune,
I wonder where
I wonder where my little bear is.”
Each has no concept of labels. To Bunny, Bear is a big bunny; to Bear, Bunny is a little bear. I find this innocence refreshing. The two share what each has found while wandering alone in the woods and then they take a nap; the bunny resting atop the bear. The image is charming, and yes, sweet, but sweet in the nicest way. These two are the essence of friendship and best friends.
The mixed media illustrations are so breathtaking in both form and feature. The bear is a gentle being with beautiful inquisitive eyes. He looks like a large Winnie-the-Pooh. The bunny is comical-looking, yet he quickly grows on you as a smart, faithful friend. Together, they are an odd couple, but one that really works. The emotions seeping out of each face is at times mesmerizing and at other times, well, the same . . . difficult to peel your eyes away from the luscious images. I love the illustrations and the way each stroke brings the two characters to life. I want these two to be real, not fictional.
The story is about the two friends wanting to have a pet. Not just any pet will do. Their pet must have three qualities:
- Would Bear and Bunny need to feed the pet?
- Would the pet need Bear and Bunny to take care of it?
- Would the pet love Bear and Bunny?
Bear found pinecones on his earlier walk, but pinecones failed the three-quality test. As did the caterpillar Bunny had found on his earlier walk. The two decide thinking so much is tiring and take another adorable nap. When they wake up, they again wander through the woods, only this time they wander together. Up in a tree something moves. Why, it’s a kitty stuck in the tree. Bear climbs the tree and helps the kitty get down.
Bear and Bunny take turns petting the kitty. Bunny thinks the kitty would make a great pet. Bear said he was thinking the same thing. Bear and Bunny decide Kitty will make a good pet, and does need them, and will certainly love them. Kitty answers each question and Bear and Bunny take this as an agreement. Now a family of three, Bear, Bunny, and Kitty wander off together to find Kitty some strawberries to eat. And if that won’t do, they will find something else.
This in itself would be a perfectly lovely story, but there is a twist. A hilarious twist, foreshadowed in earlier songs. Kids will love the twist, as will adults. Parents will never mind reading Bear and Bunny. On multiple readings, knowing the twist and the ending, I’ve not gotten tired of reading Bear and Bunny. There are spreads I would love to frame, they are that gorgeous. People who enjoy and collect outstanding picture books will need to pick up Bear and Bunny.
Young children will love the story of friendship and acceptance. Bear and Bunny makes a wonderful story time read or a bedtime read. Actually, Bear and Bunny is an anytime read, and anytime you read Bear and Bunny, you will smile inside and hug your new imaginary bear and bunny friends.
BEAR AND BUNNY. Text copyright © 2015 by Daniel Pinkwater. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Will Hillenbrand. Reproduce by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.
Meet the author, Daniel Pinkwater, at his website: http://www.pinkwater.com/
Blog Facebook Twitter @DanielPinkwater
Meet the illustrator, Will Hillenbrand, at his website: http://www.willhillenbrand.com/
Blog Facebook Twitter @HillenbrandWill
Find more books at the Candlewick Press website: http://www.candlewick.com/
Blog Facebook Twitter @Candlewick
Bear and Bunny is the sequel to Bear in Love (also by Pinkwater and Hillenbrand)
Also by Daniel Pinkwater
Mrs. Noodlekugel and Drooly the Bear – illustrated by Adam Stower
Beautiful Yetta’s Hanukkah Kitten – illustrated by Jill Pinkwater
Sleepover Larry – illustrated by Jill Pinkwater
Also by Will Hillenbrand
Me and Annie McPhee – written by Olivier Dunrea (June 14, 2016)
All For a Dime: A Bear and Mole Story
Down by the Barn
. . —and many more
The November/December issue of Middle Grade Shelf is now out. Kid Lit Reviews is not the only book review site to be named Best. Take a look to the right of Kid Lit Reviews (center). What is that to the right? My friend Erik @This Kid Reviews Books. Congratulations Erik!
Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved
.Full Disclosure: Bear and Bunny by Daniel Pinkwater & Will Hillenbrand, and received from Candlewick Press, is in exchange NOT for a positive review, but for an HONEST review. The opinions expressed are my own and no one else’s. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
BEAR AND BUNNY by Daniel Pinkwater. Illustrations © 2015 by Will Hillenbrand. Used by permission of Candlewick Press.