Review: Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins

Mother Bruce by Ryan T Higgins

Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins (InfoSoup)

Bruce is a bear who likes very little in life. But he loves eggs. He finds complicated recipes on the internet that he tries out. When he discovers a recipe for goose eggs, he immediately heads into the forest to source the items. Back home, he puts the eggs in water but then has to run out for firewood. Returning home, he finds that the eggs have hatched into four goslings. He considers eating them with butter, but loses his appetite. He tries to return them, but Mother Goose has left for the winter. So he is stuck with the four little goslings who follow him everywhere. He tries to make the best of it, but it’s very challenging for one grumpy bear to suddenly be a mother to four little birds.

Higgins has created a laugh-out-loud funny picture book about a bear who finds himself unable to say no to parenting four goslings. The humor is wonderfully silly, from the way that Bruce “shops” and “locally sources” his ingredients in the forest to the attempts to get the geese to migrate south. The book shows that this grumpy bear has a heart of gold as he cares deeply for the geese and allows his entire life to be changed by them without getting overly mushy at all. The ending too was a surprise, one that fits perfectly but I didn’t expect at all.

A lot of the humor of this picture book is carried in its illustrations which have a real attitude of their own and a point of view. Readers will fall for Bruce despite his grumpiness thanks to the illustrations alone. The little goslings too are a delight as they imitate Bruce, drape themselves around, and explore the world. The illustrations of the goslings as teens is perfection.

Funny, perfect to read aloud, and a surprise of an autumnal read, this picture book is great fun. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten

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The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten (InfoSoup)

Adam isn’t looking for romance at his OCD group therapy session but when Robyn walks in, everything changes. Adam has enough going on in his life with his divorced parents, a stepmother, and a little brother who needs Adam all the time. As Adam starts to teach Robyn about Catholicism, the others in his group become intrigued too. Soon Adam finds himself showing them all the church that he and his mother left years ago. Adam reassures himself that everyone lies, but his lies seem to be increasing each day, from lying to Robyn about where he lives to lying about his mother’s escalating condition. Adam wants to feel in control of his life and to get better, but it is all getting out of control, especially his OCD.

This teen novel won the Governor General’s Award in Canada. It speaks to the OCD condition and the difficult journey towards a healthier mental state. It also has a huge heart and a large dose of humor. Adam’s entire life could be seen as a tragedy but thanks to the writing here that keeps it from becoming morose, the book is triumphant and so is Adam. This is not a book that minimizes the impact of mental illness, instead it embraces the difficulties and concerns, showing how each and every day, each threshold and each twist of panic can change what is happening.

Adam and Robyn are beautiful foils for one another. Adam begins the book as the person with it mostly together while Robyn is freshly released from a residential program. But as the book and their relationship progresses, that changes in a realistic and heart-wrenching way. Throughout, readers see the depth of Adam’s issues and the strength it will take to stop lying to everyone, but mostly to himself.

Funny, deep and immensely satisfying, this novel deals with teens with OCD and how life just keeps on happening no matter how many lies you tell. Appropriate for ages 14-18.

Reviewed from copy received from Random House Children’s Books.