What the Grizzly Knowsby David Elliott, Max Grafe
As a little boy falls peacefully into sleep and starts to dream, his teddy bear grows and growls and pops his button nose to turn into a real grizzly bear. And amazingly, the boy becomes a grizzly bear, too —/b>
A lyrical bedtime tale of a little boy and his bear is an ode to the magic of dreams — and the transformative power of the imagination.
As a little boy falls peacefully into sleep and starts to dream, his teddy bear grows and growls and pops his button nose to turn into a real grizzly bear. And amazingly, the boy becomes a grizzly bear, too — following his friend to the nighttime forest to hunt and prowl, feast and fish until the morning sun returns. David Elliott's spare, poetic text and Max Grafe's luminous illustrations tell a transfixing bedtime story, gently carrying sleepy listeners into dreamland.
With an ungainly layout, stumbling meter, and missing transitions, this attempt at a gentle bedtime poem misses the mark. The second-person rhyming text weaves a dream story about child and teddy bear becoming grizzlies, playing through the night, and then turning back into their former selves in time to awaken to a new day. Despite the occasional evocative turn of phrase, there are such dubious constructions as, "The moon's/a saucer full of cream,/you think/as you begin to dream." Poor choices for line breaks, strange punctuation, and the use of a font in which periods and commas are nearly indistinguishable compounds the awkwardness of the text. The illustrations, a combination of monotype, drypoint etching, and watercolor, fare no better. While certain images are lovely and arresting, the child, whose face looks unformed, is more creepy than appealing. Additionally, in some scenes the bears look distinctly cut out, which, rather than giving the pictures depth, simply serves to make them look cobbled together and unfinished. In most of the nature scenes, the animals look realistic, but in certain places the bears have a cartoonish feel, which is jarring against the dreamlike quality of the text and other pictures.-Amy Lilien-Harper, The Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT
In this lyrical nighttime adventure aimed at the pre-K set, a boy holding his teddy bear falls asleep and begins to dream. What begins as a cuddly bedtime story, however, changes into a fantastical journey when the boy's ted turns into a real grizzly, morphing, almost Incredible Hulk–style, into a huge animal with white claws the size of fingers: "Teddy growls as Teddy grows; / Teddy pops his button nose..." Strangely, all this growling and popping does not terrify the boy (though readers might find it a bit scary), and he quickly finds himself transformed as well. The two bears leave the bedroom and enter a mysterious woodland where they feast on bushes, fish in icy streams and explore the night wilderness in all their bear glory. Elliott's spare, poetic writing creates a believably childlike dream world, and Grafe's inky browns, blues and greens match the moody text perfectly. It's so effective that it may well frighten some sensitive kids rather than lulling them to sleep; buy it for the more adventurous types. (Picture book. 4-6)
- Candlewick Press
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 10.00(w) x 11.40(h) x 0.40(d)
- Age Range:
- 3 - 7 Years
Meet the Author
David Elliott is the author of several picture books, including ON THE FARM, illustrated by Holly Meade, and the NEW YORK TIMES bestseller AND HERE'S TO YOU!, illustrated by Randy Cecil. David Elliott lives near New London, New Hampshire.
Max Grafe is the illustrator of THE BEARSKINNER, retold by Laura Amy Schlitz; THE WEE CHRISTMAS CABIN OF CARN-NA-WEEN by Ruth Sawyer; OLD COYOTE by Nancy Wood; and EYE OF THE WOLF by Daniel Pennac. Max Grafe lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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