CM . . .
. Volume XIX Number 29. . . .March 29, 2013
This fun, Christmas romp in which Natalie asks Santa for a polar bear for Christmas trots along at a fun pace in rhyming text from beginning to end. When the polar bear arrives, zany havoc ensues, and the polar bear is responsible for everything from eating the Christmas roast, to sliding down the stairs dog-sled style. As much trouble as he is, however, his usefulness far outweighs his menace and he becomes part of the family.
The rhymes provide the flow throughout the story, but, in some cases, the rhyming words take over and become the focus, as evident from the excerpt. The book needs to be tightened up and edited as there are capitalization and grammatical issues throughout the story - the word "rozy" is a misspelling that doesn't add value to the poetry, and the name of the polar bear, presumably "Bear" is capitalized at times, and other times not. In some cases both dashes (-) and ellipses (...) are used interchangeably, making the text appear sloppy.
The strength of this picture book is in the illustrations by Elizabeth Pratt who states in her bio that "People are most often successful when they find fun in what they do." Pratt has added her own touches to the whimsical pencil crayon illustrations, including a family of mice that are never mentioned in the text but appear on every page either in family portraits or participating in the shenanigans of the household. Unfortunately, the illustrations don't always match the text, leaving the reader confused as to why the bear is dressed like a Buckingham Palace guard or why Dad is wearing a tiara. Yes, illustrations need to enhance the story, but these illustrations veer off a little too far, competing with the text for prominence.
The concept for this picture book is good, but it needs better execution to reach its fun, nonsensical, imaginative potential.
Recommended with reservations.
Jill Griffith is the Youth Services Manager at Red Deer Public Library in Red Deer, AB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.