CM . . . .
Volume VI Number 15 . . . . March 31, 2000
Hey, Bear! Get off the train!Jeffrey tries to warn Bear of potential danger, but Bear pays no attention in this lyrical book that hums along through the seasons as the trains hums along the tracks. Julie Lawson has written a book that fits into many categories: trains, prairies, bears, seasons and Canadiana among them. The main character is a bear who follows his stomach and falls asleep on a train. As he hibernates, he travels across the landscape of Canada while Jeffrey stands guard. Coincidentally, Bear wakes up in the spring right back where he started and emerges from the grain hopper to begin eating voraciously again, still ignoring Jeffrey. The pattern of Jeffrey's admonition duplicates the pattern of the train criss-crossing the country, and his perseverance is both frustrating and funny.
Lawson's enjoyable story is complemented by beautiful oil illustrations painted by Brian Deines who uses rough brush strokes and the browns and greens of nature to show off the mountains and prairies at their most majestic. His train is dark and powerful, churning its way relentlessly through the countryside. Bear on the Train was inspired by a personal encounter with a bear by Lawson's family. It is a departure and a complement to her collection of 18 books for children and young adults, notably The Dragon's Pearl and Emma and the Silk Train.
Harriet Zaidman is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.
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