Ursus Invisibilas: The Bear Who Wasn't There by Le Uyen Pham
THIS IS THE STORY OF THE BEAR WHO WASN'T THERE.
WHERE IS THE BEAR?
There is no bear there. Duck steps in to inform all the other animals that bears cannot be counted upon when you need one.
NOW, DUCKS, ON THE OTHER HAND, ALWAYS SHOW UP.
WHAT IF I TELL YOU A NICE DUCK STORY?
Duck sets up shop, hawking his own book, The Duck Who Showed Up, but the other critters spot the ubiquitous bear tracks across the pages and are much more interested in organizing a search party for the alleged Bear. Armadillo advises the group that they are barking up the wrong book, so to speak. Weasel suggests a strategic page turn, only to come upon Duck, still pushing his own product. Anonymouse adds a sign on a nearby door:
[The Bear is in there.
P.S.: Don't worry about the the sign (PRIVATE) on the door.]
Inside Giraffe is seen, seated on the toilet. Oops! Bare, but definitely not The Bear. Time for a red-faced page turn! There's an all-points call for a Bear--anywhere!
A boar? Nope! A bare hare? Har(e)dly!
Another page turn finds Giraffe back in the bathroom.
HEY! DOESN'T ANYBODY KNOCK IN THIS BOOK?
Bird tries to take over the chaos, building a composite stack of critters in the shape of a bear! Duck keeps on pushing his book. Soon a small riot of various creatures is in progress. This search party is beary much of a bust!
Someone asks the salient question: Who writes this stuff?
The paint-stained author-illustrator appears as requested.
"DID I DRAW ALL THIS?" SHE ASKS.
No bear seems to be there, but Duck urges the reader to press on, right to the beary end, in LeUyen Pham's latest, The Bear Who Wasn't There (Roaring Brook Press, 2016). Intrigued young readers will follow the crowd, right to the very beary back flap of the dust jacket if need be, in this trippy tale that plays with both language and the conceptual conceits of the book itself.
In a play on the premise of the ever-popular We're Going on a Bear Hunt (Classic Board Books), Pham's illustrations of kooky critters summons readers curiosity and give us an elusive ursus who manages to be the metafictional star of the show without really making a personal on-page appearance. It's an attention-grabbing read-aloud or read-alone picture book that will evoke many a chuckle with humor that ranges from the slapstick pants-down giraffe on the potty to the sophisticated, an author who comes right on page to lead the reader on. Kirkus Reviews bares the bear facts: "The wordplay is delightfully nonsensical. Look—and laugh out loud."
Labels: Bears--Fiction (Grades K-3)