From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 2–Nat's grandma lives with a troupe of life-size bears, and not of the stuffed variety. It's the boy's first overnight visit to her cottage, and her assortment of bears seems to represent the fears or psychological barriers that young children must overcome when encountering new experiences independent of their parents. Nat meets a bear in the foyer who is upset by the rain and the mess it creates. The child soothes him with a clever hopping game. Similarly, Nat befriends Aggie, who is unhappy because she has soap in her eyes, and grumpy Tumtum, who is hiding under the table. After Grandma tucks Nat in at bedtime, and he thinks that he is alone, he is wonderfully surprised and comforted by a little cub. The story is accompanied by warm-toned, softened drawings that lend both a cozy and a vintage mood. These intimate domestic scenes, however, may not be sufficient to offset the alarm some readers might feel at the thought of staying in a house filled with large animals. Granted, the creatures are benign in their response to Nat, but the premise is unusual and children tend to be literal. While the boy ultimately does deal with his anxieties as symbolized by the bears, this still might not be the book to share with youngsters contemplating a first foray away from home.–Rosalyn Pierini, San Luis Obispo City-County Library, CA
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K-Gr. 2. Young Nat faces the prospect of an overnight at Grandma's with understandable anxiety because Grandma lives with a houseful of bears. But after teaching one bear a simple jumping game, sharing a box of doughnuts with another, dining in front of the TV with a third, and receiving an after-bath toweling from a fourth, the ice is thoroughly broken. Howard plays this unlikely scenario perfectly straight, placing child and motherly grandparent in a comfortably ordinary domestic setting shared with huge but very soft-looking bears of various sorts, all "bearing" slight but recognizable smiles. Nat's fear returns when the bedroom lights go out--but quickly disappears when a bear cub snuffles up from the foot of the bed for a cuddle. The story will delight young bear lovers, and Grandma's towering, gentle housemates make good stand-ins for new people or changes in a young child's life. John Peters
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