CM . . .
. Volume XX Number 15. . . .December 13, 2013
Bear is back again, and he may have met his match. Nick Bland’s The Very Brave Bear pits Bear against Boris Buffalo in a competition to determine who is braver. Through a series of escalating challenges, Bear and Boris demonstrate to themselves and each other the great lengths they can go without getting scared, culminating in a visit to a very scary cave. When our brave characters are startled by the noises emanating from the cave, they are forced to admit their limits. The cave belongs to a friendly frog, a lesson in the power of perception in fear. It all works out in the end, and the friends agree that they are equally brave, thereby providing a satisfying ending to an entertaining adventure.
By now, children will know what to expect from Bear’s adventures, and they will be excited to delve into his newest escapade. The spot-on rhyme scheme does all the work for the reader, and the pacing, suspense, and emphasis are written right into the text. The competition between Boris and Bear creates drama and humour, and Bland’s drawings help to layer the emotional appeal. The many visual cues added into the illustrations strengthen the story. As an added treat, the frog from the end of the book is included on every page. It’s a great little game for children to go back throughout the story and locate the little orange character hidden amongst the strong browns and varied greens of the scenery.
The Very Brave Bear is a great romp through the Jingle Jangle Jungle and an excellent addition to the Bear series. It is sure to please long-time fans and attract new readers.
Amber Allen is a librarian in Toronto, ON, with a passion for children’s literature and writing.
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