From the Publisher
"Daring, original, and a joy."
Sunday Times, London
…a quietly brilliant book for younger children by Britain's Emily Gravett that includes just five words: the title's four plus a kicker. Each word gets its own iconic rendering, which is then mixed and matched with the others in a rising tide of creative (and instructive) silliness.
The Washington Post
Gravett, who won the Kate Greenaway Medal for Wolves, has another winner here. Using just the four words in the title in various combinations (plus a fifth word for a punchline), she ingeniously chronicles a big friendly bear's encounter with some fresh produce. Some of the vignettes are semi-reality based: the bear juggles the fruit ("Apple, bear, orange, pear") and balances all three pieces on his nose ("Orange, pear, apple, bear"). But other spreads are thoroughly fanciful: in one, Gravett tints the pear bright orange, and renders the dubious-looking bear in the green and blush hues of a Granny Smith apple ("Orange pear/ Apple bear"). The ursine hero later makes a quick meal of each fruit ("Pear, bear") and trots off into the sunset to the sound of the satisfactory punchline: "There!" Gravett sets her simple, almost iconic watercolor images against crisp white backgrounds. The fruit looks good enough to eat, and the bear, who clearly relishes his moment in the spotlight, is a winning performer. Ages 1-4. (May)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz
Gravett juggles just four words, with a fifth tossed in at the end, to tell a complete story. Each word in the title is introduced with its illustration on a page. The bear seems to greet us as the tale begins. Then the play with the words and their meanings starts. We have a pensive "Orange bear" then an "Orange pear," an "Apple (colored) bear" and a "pear bear." The bear occasionally takes on the characteristics of the named fruit; the orange bear is indeed orange. Charcoal-like outlines define the shapes; washy watercolors add specificity. The parade of fruits begins on the front endpapers and continues across the half-title pages. Toward the end, we watch the bear munch on them; then we find the peels and cores parading across the back endpapers. This delicious mini-adventure demonstrates how little text and visual imagery it takes to evoke emotions while telling a story.
Loose line-and-watercolor illustrations ring the changes on all the possible combinations of the four title words in this deliciously playful romp. A very large, very genial bear first contemplates, then plays with the fruit, first turning orange, then morphing into an apple and a pear (in illustrations that emphasize his delightfully rounded posterior). The fruits themselves appear alone, in stacks and in simple compositions that recall Cezanne's still lifes. It's a masterpiece of superbly controlled pacing, each object and its corresponding word appearing initially alone on the page, then combining in twos, then all rushing together as the bear's play intensifies, then slowing again as he eats the fruits, one by one, in a glorious display of happy gluttony. The text employs only the four words of the title (with one notable, concluding exception), rearranging themselves to produce the felicitously surprising pictorial combinations. The creamy background and gray typeface complement the light lines and bright colors of the fruits, and the bear is a striking example of how, in this case at least, less is definitely more. (Picture book. 1-4)