Monday, November 25, 2019

Review - Teddy Bear of the Year

Teddy Bear of the Year
by Vikki VanSickle
illustrated by Sydney Hanson
Date: 2020
Publisher: Tundra Books (NY)
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 40
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

The teddy bears' picnic gets a modern twist in this warm and fuzzy picture book about a young teddy bear who learns that small acts of kindness can make a big difference.

Ollie is a regular bear with a regular job. He listens to his girl's stories about her days, he snuggles her to sleep and he is there waiting when she gets home from school. Just your typical teddy bear stuff. So when he is whisked away to the annual teddy bears' picnic, he feels insignificant compared to the other bears who do daring and daunting things: sleepovers, hospital stays--even a night in the lost and found!

After small talk with a regional stuffing manager, a department of cuddling official and a stitchery inspector; a stop at the snack table; and even some team building activities, it's time for the teddy bear service awards . . . and Ollie feels even more small and unimportant. But he soon learns that it's not just the big things that matter, it's the little things too.

While parents will love the tongue-in-cheek office-party details, kids and parents alike will fall in love with Ollie: a sweet bear who discovers that his love for his girl makes him very special indeed.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

Teddy Bear of the Year is a cute story that runs with the idea of the teddy bears' picnic (likely inspired by the old song). Ollie is Amena's teddy bear. He's on duty pretty much all the time. One night, while Amena is asleep, a floating silver boat arrives outside the window. A grizzled old teddy named The Snug whisks Ollie away to a party in the woods. There, they celebrate their accomplishments as teddy bears, highlighting the important functions they perform for their children. After the picnic is over, Ollie is returned to Amena's bedroom, where she is still asleep. He proceeds to tell her all about the party.

The story is pretty cute, and the illustrations are sweet. The writing is some of the strongest I've seen in a picture book in a long time, technically speaking. It's nice to not have to be tripped up by grammar and punctuation issues.

Overall, this is a strong book about a magical gathering of teddy bears. It's a celebration of our favourite toys, with a message about kindness and caring. I'd recommend it to those looking for books about what toys get up to when our backs are turned, as well as to those who enjoy retellings of old stories and/or songs.

Thank you to NetGalley and Tundra Books (NY) for providing a digital ARC.

Premise: 4/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 5/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 4/5

Enjoyment: 4/5

Overall: 4 out of 5

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