The Sniffles for Bear by B. Becker
Becker, Bonny. The Sniffles for Bear. Cambridge, Mass.: Candlewick Press, 2011. Print
Any book featuring the shenanigans of curmudgeonly Bear and winsome Mouse is met with enthusiasm in my house. Bear has a terrible cold and he responds to his condition with his usual verbose intolerance. Again, it is utterly creative and unstoppably committed Mouse - every introvert’s secret fantasy friend - to the rescue. While the dialogue is as snappy and satisfying as ever, it is Denton’s illustrations, their clean, clear detail and spot-on visual characterization that put these excellent books over the top. Has there ever been a cold suffered more intensely than Bear’s? The physical language and facial expressions on the cover alone speak to the depths Bear’s lethargy and irritation and Mouse’s unquenchable joie de vivre.
Becker’s willingness to use evocative, mildly esoteric words, rather than baffling children, engages them with exotic cadence and apt expressions of the characters’ compelling idiosyncrasies. The mood and temperament of the books is unfailingly cozy and pastoral. (Is it Upper Canada or New England pastoral, though? I can’t decide.)
One always worries that the return of appealing characters in new stories will dilute their charms but that has, luckily, not been the case with Becker and Denton’s collaboration; the dynamic between Bear and Mouse continues to be clever and delightful. The exploration of friendships between the sort of oppositional temperaments that Bear and Mouse embody is a familiar theme in children’s literature. While only time will tell, there is potential that Bear and Mouse are developing as enduring a partnership as Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad. One keenly hopes for many more little domestic adventures to come.
Highly Recommended: 4 out of 4 stars
Reviewer: Matilda Roche
Matilda spends her days lavishing attention on the University of Alberta’s metadata but children’s illustrated books, literature for young adults and graphic novels also make her heart sing. Her reviews benefit from the critical influence of a four year old daughter and a one year old son – both geniuses. Matilda’s super power is the ability to read comic books aloud.