Friday, September 05, 2014

Sleep-In: Sleepover with Beatrice and Bear by Monica Carnesi

Bea and Bear met in the spring.

Checking on her seedling carrots, Beatrice Bunny is perturbed to find a large-bottomed bear sitting in the middle of her garden. Getting Bear off her crop requires that Bea be a bit pushy, but soon their friendship gets off the ground, and Bea and Bear become buddies.

During the rest of spring, all of summer, and the early fall, Beatrice and Bear are always together. But then...

... one day Beatrice couldn't find Bear.

"Bear is gone to hibernate," explained the squirrel.

Where is that? Bea wonders, consulting her map. So the squirrel patiently explains that bears sleep in the winter.

"Like a sleepover?" Beatrice bubbles.

Beatrice Bunny packs her overnight bag, heads off to join Bear in his den, and announces her intentions.

"Bunnies are great hibernators!"

All goes well through the hibernation preparation process, with Bea reading stories and serving up cups of warm milk. Bear loves the hibernation party so far. Sleepily, he settles down for a long winter's nap.

"Honey dreams, Beatrice!"

Bear snores on, but Beatrice can't seem to handle the actual hibernating part of the party. She snuggles under her carrot blanket, tries a sleep mask, re-reads all her bedtime stories, and wills herself to fall asleep. But Beatrice has got nothing! Maybe bunnies just aren't cut out to be hibernators after all.

Is winter without her buddy Bear a bust?

Bear is going to miss out on all the winter fun--sledding, skating, building snow bunnies and snow bears, tasting snowflakes and making snow angels. Beatrice Bunny is bummed.

Or not. If Beatrice can't share hibernation with Bear, maybe she can share her winter fun with him. Bea puts her energy and arts and crafts skills to work to make a scrapbook, and when Bear finally emerges in early spring, she has a wake-up gift--a book of her own Winter Delights--waiting for him to share, in Monica Carnesi's brand-new Sleepover with Beatrice and Bear (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2014). It's a virtually vicarious seasonal experience, between the covers instead of under them, the next best thing to being there for Bear.

Carnesi's apt cartoon art, done in engaging black-line drawings with watercolor wash, establish the personalities of the three characters instantly. Plenty of visual humor and speech bubbles show off the strong bond between these somewhat mismatched buddies, with the easy-going theme that friendship can always find a way to keep in touch despite differences. Like that other odd couple, Bear and Mouse in Bonnie Becker's delightful best-selling series, begun with A Visitor for Bear (Bear and Mouse), Beatrice and Bear are the sort of picture book friends that deserve another outing together. "Sure to be a hit in every library!" says School Library Journal in its starred review.

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