From the list of items he stows in his kayak to his very name, L. L. Bear clearly promotes the popular mail-order outdoor outfitting company (whose holiday catalog, incidentally, featured a plush replica of him and this book). Naive to the bear's mascot ambitions, however, youngsters will attend to his preparations for a prewinter picnic with his friends of the northern waters--Simon the seal and his young nephew, Sam; Piff the puffin; Maddie the whale; and Mackenzie the fox. As the companions meet at Blueberry Island, storm clouds furiously break and complicate the perils of finding young Sam, who has gotten lost en route to the picnic. Peterson's meticulous art heightens the drama of the animals' search for and rescue of Sam through churning waters, conveys their hard-won rest and contentment as they finally picnic around the campfire at water's edge, and portrays the snowy beauty of the north woods as winter arrives the next morning and sends the animals on their separate ways. The friendly faced critter characters will endear themselves to readers of this exciting, happily ending adventure.