From School Library Journal
Starred Review. PreSchool-Grade 1—Liam is described as "just a boy (thump, thump
), too small to fight off forest things." His papa is away and the youngster's imagination is in overdrive. His mama, who is "delicious to forest things," won't let him build a fort, baited with cake, in his bedroom. Worse, she opens the windows wide and falls "snore asleep." A forest grows all around him. Liam hears the snip-snap of twigs and then, "ROAWR!" Though his pulse is thump-thumping, he gathers his supplies—including the cake—and creeps into the wild. He builds a trap and catches a large, angry bear. Since Bear is too big and hungry to stay in a hole, Liam must feed him more before he decides to eat Mama. It's a mammoth undertaking but eventually the sated bear curls into a snoozy ball. And Liam, "a boy so brave and true," returns to his bed and falls fast asleep. This adrenaline-charged romp is, first and foremost, exciting. Jutte's lively cartoon artwork contrasts muted night colors to form powerful images: big sky, big forest, big shadows, big night, big bear, big roar, small boy. One might question whether this is bedtime reading material. And yet, from Liam's rapid-fire ideas and his determined expression and posture, children will have the sense that he is capable of handling the night's dangers. Pair this with Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are
and Mercer Mayer's There's a Nightmare in My Closet
(Dial, 1968) for a rousing evening adventure that hopefully leads to peaceful dreams.—Susan Weitz, formerly at Spencer-Van Etten School District, Spencer, NY
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It’s bedtime for Liam, and his mother just wants peace and quiet—no more of this banging and shouting. For Liam, that’s a tough proposition: the darker it gets, the more certain he is that a giant bear is approaching. Sure enough, the bear appears, hungry enough to eat Mama, and it’s up to Liam to trap him. That he does—but now what? Liam sees no other option but to feed the bear. Bears eat a lot and soon the exertion has taken its toll on Liam, who ends up back in bed: “And I . . . ? A boy so brave and true—am tired, too.” Joosse’s text, which occasionally rhymes, is off-kilter enough to keep jaded listeners’ attention, though it sometimes seems loftier than necessary (“He rumbled in the hole, slashed moonlight bloody with his claws and bellowed”). Jutte’s watercolor transformation of wallpaper into forest and teddy bear into real bear is suitably subtle; the expanding/collapsing of real and imaginary spaces is equally apt. A good choice for your favorite rambunctious insomniac. Preschool-Kindergarten. --Daniel Kraus