Monday, January 21, 2019

Review - The New LiBEARian

The New LiBEARian
by Alison Donald
illustrated by Alex Willmore
Date: 2016
Publisher: Clarion Books
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: library

A visit to the library can be full of surprises. When the librarian is late for story time, the children go off to look for her and follow mysterious paw prints to find a bear sitting at her desk. Is the bear a new librarian? Not exactly. The new LiBEARian opens a book about bears and utters a loud growl. The kids love it! Then the real librarian appears and sends the bear back into the book he came from. A fun twist at the end rounds out this winsomely illustrated tale of a universal childhood experience--story time at the library--infused with magic.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

Here we go with another problematic bear story...

This book was originally published in the UK, and it probably should've just stayed there. Perhaps I'm particularly sensitive to this because I live in western Canada, but every time I read a book about friendly, anthropomorphized bears interacting with humans, I get very uncomfortable. The last thing I want a book to be teaching kids is to follow bear tracks!

If you view it from the perspective of someone who lives in a country where they don't have to worry about wild bears, it would be a cute fantasy story about a bear who mysteriously turns up in a library, rips a few books to shreds, and growls a story at the kids. "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" ties into the plot, too, which is a neat touch.

However, I would really hesitate to give this book to a North American child. Those kids need to be learning how to be "bear aware". Like How to Catch a Bear Who Loves to Read, this book is just too problematic for certain audiences. I wouldn't recommend it unless the child lives somewhere without wild bears.

Premise: 1/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 2/5

Overall: 2.33 out of 5

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