From Publishers Weekly
In his retelling of a Russian fairy tale, Kimmel has reversed the hero's physical parts: he now has the body of a man and the head of a bear. Taken in by kindly peasants in his infancy, Bearhead becomes devoted to his protectors. Thus, when evil Madame Hexaba summons Bearhead's father to be her servant, Bearhead himself takes on the job. He follows his orders literally, however, thus proving a menace to Hexaba's house--when Hexaba tells him to clear away the table, for instance, he tosses it out the window. Sent on a supposedly deadly mission by the aggrieved Hexaba, the wily Bearhead outwits a dangerous adversary and, in a neat twist, accidentally wins riches for his parents. Text and art complement each other nicely, setting the tale in a rather modern time frame. Bearhead's new form is not quite as logical here as in the original, however, as his human body would probably not manage the feats of a bear, and his bear's head and face are not quite as expressive as a human's would be. Still, this is a satisfying tale, and children will delight in the winning hero's literal interpretations of orders. Ages 5-8.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
Kimmel states that he has adapted ``Ivanko the Bear's Son'' by giving the protagonist a bear's head on a man's body rather than the reverse, and by having him outwit a witch instead of his stepfather. Obviously, these changes substantially alter the story's inner meaning,but Kimmel's version is an amusing tale of an apparent bumbler who repeatedly triumphs by taking instructions literally. Bearhead takes his father's place when he's summoned to be the witch's servant, soon so discombobulating her household (e.g., when she asks him to clear the table, he throws it out the window) that she tries to get rid of him by sending him off to a goblin; a clever ruse saves him and results in vast wealth. Mikolaycak's beautiful illustrations are notable for their skillful, dramatic compositions; firmly enclosed on three sides, they open on a fourth to allow a pleasing accommodation of the text--an innovative, very satisfactory design. Enriched by old-world Russian detail, they depict a sturdy, charming hero, an intriguing frog/sea-monster goblin who's more debonair than appalling, and an oddly vulnerable- looking witch. A satisfying story in a handsome setting. (Picture book. 4-10) -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.