Sunday, March 17, 2019

What Scares A Bear? Bear's Scare by Jacob Grant

Bear was sure his house was clean.

His rooms were tidy. He took good care of everything inside.

Face it! This bear is a fussbudget.

He simply cannot abide disorder.

He is disgusted by dust.

He cannot bear a single cobweb in his domicile.

But he loves to fuss over his friend, a small stuffed Teddy appropriated named Ursa.

Each day Bear makes sure his home totally spit-spot. But then, one day, he wakes to find things awry. There is even a book on the floor.

And there is a cobweb on the bottom of that book. Who would dare do such a thing? Bear inspects his housekeeping. Sticky spider webs have appeared virtually everywhere. There is only one conclusion.

"Ursa, we have a spider problem," said Bear.

Willy-nilly, Bear wields the weaponry of housekeeping. He sweeps the offending webs off the ceiling and pulls his provisions out of the pantry, seeking the offending arachnid. He pokes his broom around under the bed, and in such tight quarters, poor Ursa's foot get caught and ripped off. Bear tries to glue the offending foot back on and makes a sticky mess of it.

Bear collapses on the floor and looks around. The spider webs have proliferated and the house is a wreck. He moans and groans.

"My poor friend. I never meant to make such a mess."

Finally Bear roars into high gear, ransacking the place for some mending materials. But when he returns, he finds a surprise.

His dear Ursa was good as new.

Who could sew such fine stitches with such delicate threads? Who indeed?

Perhaps persnickety Bear can learn to share his quarters with spiders after all, in Jacob Grant's funny mini-fable, Bear's Scare (Bloomsbury, 2018). Bear's OCD seems to be cured, and he's acquired some appreciation for arachnids after all, especially since these scholarly spiders share his love for reading, too.

Grant draws his bear big and brown and blocky, deliberate in all he does, while his jolly, round little spiders stay busy spinning and sewing with a will--that is, when they are not sharing a book with Bear and Ursa. This picture book is probably not a cure for arachnophobia, but it does give spiders their chance to shine. Says Publishers Weekly, "Grant gets comic mileage from Bear's stricken expression; a view of the bear's big rump as he searches under the bed will make readers smile. Insisting that everyone look and act as we do blinds us to some pretty wonderful possibilities." Or as the American sage for the age says, "Different strokes for different folks."

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