Bear Wants to Sing by Cary Fagan, illustrated by Dena Seiferling (9780735268036)
This is a follow up to King Mouse from the same creative team. Out on a walk, Bear discovers a ukulele in the grass. Bear plucked a string and thought of a song. Mouse was there on a stump, all ready to listen. Then a crow arrived an found a tambourine in the grass. She immediately sang her song for Bear and Mouse. Snake arrived next and discovered a drum, which she used to sing her own song before Bear could start his. Tortoise was next with a horn and a song. Then Fox appeared and thought they should start a band and she could be their manager. Finally, it was time for Bear to sing his song. When the others didn’t praise it, he headed away. But one friend isn’t ready to let him leave entirely.
There is a beautiful delicacy to the story and the illustrations that work deliciously together as a whole. Fagan uses repetition in the story with the series of interruptions before Bear can sing his song. There is a wonderful tension that readers and the bear feel as he is preempted again and again. It’s also a treat to have a moment of such humor in the center of this thoughtful book which then returns to its previous tone but retains a wry grin.
The illustrations are done in graphite and colored digitally. The digital color is so pale that it is a whisper of color at the edges of the scenes with pale green leaves, a brown bear, and some flowers with a glimmer of pink. They are subtle and lovely, offering space for song and performance.
Thoughtful and lovely, this book explores friendship, sharing the limelight, and being true to yourself.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Tundra Books.