Yancy & Bear.
Hazel Hutchins. Illustrated by Ruth Ohi.
Preschool - grade 1 / Ages 3 - 6.
Bear was worn out. He looked like someone who had crammed a whole year of living into just one day.In Yancy & Bear, Hazel Hutchins, author of fifteen books for children, provides young readers with an amusing tale of a young boy and his stuffed toy bear who change places for a day.
The story begins with Yancy and Bear exchanging clothes to begin their day's adventure as each other. The book describes the typical daily routines of a young boy but with a twist. Bear's enthusiasm to try to do everything that he couldn't do as a stuffed toy results in some humorous escapades - such as his climbing so high up into a tree that the fire department has to be called. By the end of the day, after Mother has read them a bedtime story, Bear has just enough energy to change back. As Yancy lovingly tucks his stuffed toy into bed, he promises him that they'll do it again next year.
Yancy & Bear will appeal to young children who can share in the imaginative adventures of a stuffed toy coming to life. However, there are some oversights that might make the story confusing for a young audience. Some of the antics of Bear might not be readily identified as "bear" behaviour by a young audience. Children might question why the adults do not seem to notice that Yancy and Bear have traded places, such as when Mother remarks "My you're cute and curly this morning!" - are the adults going along with the charade or are they really fooled? The concept of Yancy sending thought waves to Bear might also not be readily understood, however this will most likely be the kind of book adults enjoy reading aloud to young children, so this concept could be discussed and explained.
The cartoon-like illustrations by Ruth Ohi complement the text and provide interesting detail which children will love. Her portrayal of Yancy as a stuffed toy is very effective. The author's style flows easily and the story progresses in a well-sequenced time frame. The script-like font, however, might be difficult to read for beginners.
Yancy & Bear is a cute story that should appeal to young children. Although there are leaps of logic - the adult response toward Yancy and Bear in the story seems a bit confusing, this book could lead to an excellent discussion with young children about what would happen if their favourite stuffed toy did come alive one day.
Janice Foster is currently a teacher-librarian/enrichment facilitator at Oakenwald School in the Fort Garry School Division in Winnipeg.
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Copyright © 1996 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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