Anthropomorphized animals are nothing new in children’s literature—least of all anthropomorphized bears—but the antics of Benjamin Bear feel unique. This French comic book, now translated into English, follows Benjamin Bear through a series of eccentric short stories that each fit one page. Benjamin goes through his life doing things one oughtn’t to do but having no understanding of why. For instance, he sees his friend the fox chopping bricks in half, karate style. Benjamin Bear says he can do that, too, but makes the fox chop some more bricks unable to understand that he, Benjamin, ought to be the one chopping the bricks himself. This leads to some silly, lighthearted humor. At other times the comics turn to rumination, as when the bear and the rabbit watch the sun go down together. They light a candle, and it, too, goes out on them, leaving them in darkness. The words are mostly fairly simple, and it’s aimed for preschool and above. All of the pictures are in color, and while they’re not overly detailed, Coudray is meticulous with background landscape. Ages 4–8. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
The whole enterprise lies somewhere between fuzzy-wuzzy was a bear and an introduction to fuzzy logic. It is original, deep-down funny, and, most important, the adventures are steeped in the rare quality of imaginative kindness.
—The Horn Book (starred review)
Philippe Coudray loves drawing comics, and his many children's books are often used in schools in his home country of France, where his work was chosen by elementary school students for the prestigious Prix des Écoles d' Angoulême. He relishes any opportunity to collaborate on children's books and comics with his twin brother, Jean-Luc, who is also a humorist. Philippe lives in Bordeaux and enjoys painting, creating stereoscopic images, and traveling each year to Canada, where he searches for Bigfoot.