One Bear Extraordinaire by J. McGowan
McGowan, Jayme. One Bear Extraordinaire. Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2015.
This picture book is a story about a bear who begins the tale as a “one man band”, playing a guitar, drum, cymbals, harmonica and tambourine. Although legendary in the forest, he feels that, “something is missing”, so he sets out to find it. As he journeys, other animals join him, but none of them fill the void. Eventually the group encounters Wolf Pup, who wants to join but has no instrument. Bear offers him several of his instruments, but he just chews them. Finally, Wolf Pup howls at the moon and Bear realizes that what his song needed was a singer. In the end Bear just has his guitar left, but he has four other band members and their tune “sounded just right.” There are two music messages in this book. First, being a solo performer is fine, but making music with others is fine, too. The second message is that everyone has something to contribute, if they are just given a chance.
McGowan’s technique for creating pictures is unusual. She builds up layers of paper, and then photographs the image. Children will enjoy identifying objects and creatures in the brightly coloured pictures. This is a good book and should be included in public libraries and school libraries.
Recommended: 3 stars out of 4
Reviewer: Sean Borle
Sean Borle is a University of Alberta undergraduate student who is an advocate for child health and safety.
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