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
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
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)