Wonder Bear

( 5 )


Two kids plant mysterious seeds (all that's pictured on the envelope is a blue top hat), and up grows a remarkable flowering vine, out of which emerges an even more remarkable big white bear. On his head is the top hat-a hat that allows him to work all kinds of magic that day. He pulls monkey after monkey from the hat, blows bubbles in amazing shapes, and transforms flowers into spectacular floating sea creatures.

The two kids are wide-eyed with wonder, and you will be too. This...

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Two kids plant mysterious seeds (all that's pictured on the envelope is a blue top hat), and up grows a remarkable flowering vine, out of which emerges an even more remarkable big white bear. On his head is the top hat-a hat that allows him to work all kinds of magic that day. He pulls monkey after monkey from the hat, blows bubbles in amazing shapes, and transforms flowers into spectacular floating sea creatures.

The two kids are wide-eyed with wonder, and you will be too. This is a dazzling debut-a vibrant, welcoming, strikingly original picture book.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Making her debut with this publication of her M.F.A. thesis project, Nyeu tells the wordless story of two children who cultivate an enormous beanstalk-like plant, which in turn sprouts the titular bear, all in one night. With help from Wonder Bear's magical blue hat, the children are treated to a series of fantastic spectacles and adventures, culminating in a ride through the sky on the back of a royal dolphin in the company of other sea creatures. Elaborate patterning, a fondness for curvilinear motifs (gusts of wind, swirls in the ocean) and a saturated palette dominated by lapis and other gem tones give Nyeu's silk-screened compositions a sumptuous, Art Nouveau-meets-psychedelic feel. But her main characters lack the personality to drive a compelling narrative arc; in general, these pictures are like individual showcases for different visual challenges (how to re-create transparent surfaces, how to suggest clouds and sky, etc.). Nyeu's art makes a strong impression; it just doesn't tell much of a story. Ages 3-5. (Sept.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
After two youngsters plant two different kinds of seeds, they awaken to find that one has grown into an incredible flowering plant. From it emerges the Wonder Bear, tipping his hat as he invites them to join him on a mystical, wordless journey. He first releases from his hat scores of monkey-like creatures who perform amazing tricks with the youngsters. He then blows bubbles to take them up into the air. The hat produces flowers; he then blows the children and many other creatures up in the air again and over the water to a magical island. The boy and girl have fallen asleep in his arms. He places them gently in bed, then climbs back into his hat and flies away into the stars. The water-based ink silkscreen illustrations are decorative images. The double-page scene of the magic plant growing with fronds, flowers and leafy stems as the bear emerges from an orange blossom is a joy to behold, along with the further inventive plants blown from the bear's mouth. The monkeys provide considerable fun as their actions contribute to the decorative appeal. As the final cosmic scene of stars appears, we see the zooming hat with its vapor trail as part of the magic. Note the contrasting jacket and cover, and the single mischievous monkey peering out of the loopy pattern on the back end pages only. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 1

A dream fantasy in which a boy and a girl plant a "hat seed." Overnight, the seed bears magical fruit: a large white bear with a blue hat. From this hat, the bear proceeds to extract monkeys and porpoises as well as sea and firmament into which he carries the drowsing children. Finally cuddling them and tucking them in once again, the dream bear and monkeys drift back into the night. The slight, wordless story is a showcase for Nyeu's art. Executed in silkscreen with water-based ink, the bold palette of warm golden oranges and cool blues, assertive line, and handsome design are strikingly confident. There are a few visual holes in the story, but on the whole, this debut is worth a second look, even if it is not an essential purchase.-Kate McClelland, Perrot Memorial Library, Old Greenwich, CT

Kirkus Reviews
Newcomer Nyeu's wordless fantasy begins with a girl and boy sowing seeds-she, for watermelons, he, for a hat (or so his planted sign would indicate). The pair sleeps in a people-bed beside their garden bed, awakening next morn to sprouting melon seeds and an eye-poppingly huge flowering plant. Its largest bud yields a magic hat and a white bear-who parlays the day into something wondrous, indeed. From his hat, Wonder Bear produces monkeys, giant bubbles resembling lions and flora that morphs into sea-creature escorts. After careering exhilaratingly through night sky and sea, the little band heads back in time for Bear to tuck the children in beside their fabulous garden, now rife with full-size watermelons. Borrowing from Seuss, Gag, Thurber and Japanese textiles, Nyeu's lush silk-screened pictures pulse with stylized yet organic forms, teetering perspectives and a mysterious, apt conclusion. The design elements are noteworthy, too: The generous trim size, creamy, opaque, matte paper and lovely boards and endpapers combine artfully. An intriguing, nuanced debut from an artist to watch. (Picture book. 3-5)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803733282
  • Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication date: 9/18/2008
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 331,523
  • Age range: 3 - 5 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.52 (w) x 12.14 (h) x 0.49 (d)

Meet the Author

Tao Nyeu

Wonder Bear was Tao Nyeu’s thesis project as a second-year graduate student at the School of Visual Arts in New York. She now lives in Los Angeles, California.

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Interviews & Essays

A Conversation with Tao Nyeu

1. What inspired you to create Wonder Bear?
Wonder Bear was my thesis project for my Illustration MFA at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. I knew that I was going to do a children's book and I had a few ideas in mind as well as an affinity for drawing bears. One day I came upon a very odd looking gummy bear. It had the look of a bear that had magical powers. It was spooky so I ate it. That led to the development of a story about a bear who performs magic. A magician of course has a magician's hat. Since this bear is no ordinary magician he pulls a plethora of monkeys out of his hat, not a rabbit.

The title, Wonder Bear, is a play on the german word wunderbar, which means "wonderful."

2. What do you like best about illustrating your own imaginative ideas?
What I love best about illustrating my own stories is the absolute freedom of expression. It is so much fun to create a universe and populate it with funny characters and think about how they spend their days and what their surroundings look like. I enjoy the challenge of finding stories in these worlds and experimenting with how to illustrate the pictures.

3. Which illustrators influenced you as an early reader?
My favorite books as a child were by Richard Scarry, Beatrix Potter, Dr. Seuss. I loved how their animal worlds and characters paralleled the funny things humans do.

4. What was your childhood ambition?
When I was very young I thought that I would become a scientist. My idea of what a scientist was went no further than imagining a person in a white lab coat and goggles standing in front of a rack of test tubes. That image alone was enough to satisfy myself that I knew what I was going to do with my life. Knowing that my future was secure, I was at ease to spend my days drawing and playing.

5. Which adjectives best describe Wonder Bear?
Imaginative and free. I hope that the story will inspire readers to think that anything is possible.

6. What are you working on now?
I'm currently working on my second book, also to be published by Dial Books for Young Readers. It's about a group of bunnies who get into unfortunate situations when they cross paths with a pair of goats. Luckily there is a kind and wise bear to make everything better. This book will also be silk screened.

7. What do you like to do when you're not creating artwork?
So many things! Reading, eating, knitting, crocheting, baking, hiking, surfing, skiing, shopping, traveling, visiting museums and gardens. Basically I like to enjoy life and everything I see and do eventually makes it into my artwork in one way or another.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 5 )
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