Reviews for Baby Bear

Booklist Reviews 2013 December #2
Nelson's books have included stories about slaves, baseball players, and jazz artists; here, he tries something new--a bedtime story. Baby Bear is lost. He walks under a midnight-blue sky, approaching forest animals from the mountain lion to squirrels, a towering moose to a wise owl. From each he gets a bit of advice about the way home: sit still, climb higher, listen to your heart. Finally, it is a salmon ("promise not to eat me") who leads Baby Bear across the river, just as the harvest moon that has followed his wanderings is changing places with a bright morning sun. Storywise, this isn't much different from many picture books about baby animals' night journeys and the forest dwellers who help them, but Nelson's art is better than most and takes up some of that slack. Oversize spreads of oil-on-canvas paintings feature eye-catching close-ups of the animals as well as views from spectacular perspectives. Always, the little bear is at the center of the art, endearingly drawn. His predicament will touch listeners, who will be as happy as he is when home is finally in view. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Nelson's many fans are always eager to see what he's up to, and this change of pace will win him some new ones. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2014 Fall
In this glossy, oversize bedtime book, a little lost bear finds its way home with the help of animals it meets on the journey. The color-saturated double-page spreads are grand and imposing, creating a rather cold and distancing effect; the text can be cloying ("When I am lost, I sit very still and try to listen to my heart").

Kirkus Reviews 2013 November #2
The award-winning Nelson turns from nuanced treatments of historical subjects to this exploration of a classic preschool trope: a lost animal's search for home. Baby Bear wanders before a huge, rising full moon, encountering a succession of forest animals. Each—whether a frog caught midmunch or a towering, pensive moose—offers a bit of gentle advice. Strung together, these gems could stand as a guide to life for readers of all ages: Retrace your steps. Trust yourself. Hug a tree. Listen to your heart. Climb a little higher. Sing a song. Look up and keep going. Yet owing to Baby Bear's childlike vulnerability, all this imparted wisdom can be psychically tough to implement in the moment. There's poignancy in certain spreads, in which Baby Bear tries enacting just-received advice. When Moose asks "Hello, Baby Bear. / What are you doing?" Baby Bear demurs: "Uh, nothing." (The cub's hugging a tree, on counsel of a couple of squirrels.) Nelson's marvelous oils play with light and alternating perspective. Against the starlit, velvet-blue sky, the luminous moon picks out the whiskers and tawny fur of Mountain Lion. It's dawn when Salmon leads Baby Bear through the final leg of the journey home. Integral endpapers frame the story: At front, golden moonlight pools in a river bend; at back, the sun's rays pour over the ridge. Children will enjoy spotting several of the narrative's animals in miniature. Resonant. (Picture book. 4-7) Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 October #3

Nelson (Nelson Mandela) builds his tale on the simplest bedtime-story scaffolding: a bear cub loses its way home and asks other forest animals for help. What distinguishes Nelson's creation is an atmosphere of loving-kindness and the affirmation of Baby Bear's ability to make the journey alone. Even animals that appear intimidating (a mountain lion, a moose) offer reassurance. These nighttime encounters unfold against a background of rich cobalt blue, bathed in the orange light of the full moon. "You are not alone, Baby Bear," says an owl in a tree. "I am here with you. You only need look up and keep going." Softly brushed oil paintings convey intimacy by getting right up close. One spread zeroes in on Baby Bear's moist black nose, the moon reflected in its shining eyes. In another sweet-tempered scene, a salmon leads Baby Bear home ("If you promise not to eat me, I will show you the way"), the fish swishing through the water while Baby Bear paddles behind. It's easy to imagine the tension leaving anxious bed-goers as they realize that Baby Bear is always safe. Ages 4-8. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Jan.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2014 January

PreS-Gr 1--A glorious full moon illuminates a blue-black wilderness as a scared and lost Baby Bear seeks his way home. He deferentially asks various animals for help. Each creature offers a different suggestion on how to find his home. Some of the advice is practical as Mountain Lion tells him to "retrace your steps," some of it is silly as the squirrels suggest that he "hug a tree," and some is just clichd as Moose says, "listen to [your] heart. It speaks as softly and sweetly as a gentle breeze. And it is never wrong." Salmon is the last one to help Baby Bear, swimming with the cub and then instructing him to climb up and see his home at last. Relieved, the little bear beholds a splendid sunrise over the river valley, the same view as depicted in the front endpapers of the book, but now bathed in light. Most young children equate "home" with "family," and the fact that no other bears appear is disconcerting. Nelson's luscious oils on canvas are as breathtaking as ever, and his superb, almost life-sized, depictions of these creatures in their natural environment hold a wonder of their own. Unfortunately, the saccharine narrative and less-than-satisfying resolution make Baby Bear an additional purchase at best.--Yelena Alekseyeva-Popova, formerly at Chappaqua Library, NY

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