A little girl named Ella regales children with what she believes a good story should—and shouldn’t—include: royalty, humor, a few well-placed frights, but absolutely no bears. As her make-believe effort unfolds, those paying attention to the illustrations will see that things aren’t going as Ella would have us hear. Indeed, there is a bear: a large and kindly one who adds water so the owl and the pussycat can set sail, literally pulls the strings on the monster’s boots, and even ends up rescuing the fairy godmother. Ella, of course, refuses to acknowledge the bear’s presence en route to her story’s happily ever after. Ella is a delightful and creative mirror for any imaginative child, and the bear is that good parent who doesn’t require recognition, even as she plays an important role in the visual story. Rudge’s busily patterned watercolor pages, comic proportions, and clever details—the billiard-ball-round king’s head; Ella’s own instructions for making a paper crown; the post-rescue party, featuring pigs in tutus and gingerbread men—invite much exploration. Grades K-2. --Francisca Goldsmith
In delicate, curlicued drawings, we see an evil monster stomping through the pages to kidnap a princess "so she could read him bedtime stories every night." Rescue comes when the princess cries out, "Someone save me!" and someone does. Who is this someone? Children ages 5-7 will have been chortling all along because they know that the princess is protected by a fairy godmother who happens to be . . . a bear. A charming fable.
—The Wall Street Journal
Ella proclaims that she is in charge of this book, and this book will have no bears, not a one: "Every time you read a book, it’s just BEARS BEARS BEARS." She decrees that her book will have a monster and a princess and a fairy godmother instead, makes herself a crown, and begins her bear-free tale. Readers, however, can see perfectly well in the delicate and droll illustrations that there is
a bear in the book they’re reading... This is a picture book that will send the reader delightedly back again and again to sort out the layers of reality... Both the story and the inventive digital pictures draw readers in deeper and deeper, along with the many fairy-tale details to discover (clever viewers will spot all the usual suspects, from Little Red Riding Hood to Rapunzel to the Three Little Pigs).
—The Horn Book
"I’m tired of bears. Every time you read a book, it’s just BEARS BEARS BEARS," grumps the young narrator. Claiming that you don’t need them, she proceeds to craft a story about a monster who sets out to steal a princess and is ultimately foiled by a fairy godmother. Fair enough—but as is evident from the episode’s first page on, the godmother hovering watchfully just beyond the edges of each scene is unmistakably ursine... Young fans of David Wiesner’s THREE PIGS (2001) and other metafictive romps will be properly amused.