Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Review - The Invisible Bear

The Invisible Bear
by Cécile Metzger
Date: 2020
Publisher: Tundra Books (NY)
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 40
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

A simple act of kindness brings two unlikely friends together in this profound picture book about the transformative power of friendship.

A bear sits in his quiet, colorless home in a forgotten place. He feels invisible; no one comes to see him, and he spends his days alone.

Then someone moves in next door. Madame Odette is sound and sunshine, and at first, the bear isn't sure about this colorful new neighbor.

But through an act of kindness, the bear and the Madame Odette meet, and as time goes by, they become friends. And in the end, they are both forever changed by the gifts they bring each other.

The first book from author-illustrator Cécile Metzger, The Invisible Bear is a powerful and beautiful meditation on the beauty of friendship and how two people can save each other just by being themselves.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

What the...?!

I'm just sitting here laughing because I don't get it. I'm not sure if I'm supposed to get it. (Okay, to clarify, I get it. But I'm trying to read this as a child would, and I keep coming up confused.) It's not that the illustrations aren't charming (because they are) or that the overall message isn't sweet (because it is), but there's obviously a lot of symbolism and metaphor here that's likely to go over readers' heads. Like when the bear is illustrated in a sequence of filling up with grey and then a raincloud appearing over his head. (I'm still not sure if that's how he saved Madame Odette's flowers. Is this magical realism? Or is it some sort of statement about using negative emotions constructively?) The book ends with Madame Odette dying (she loves her dragonflies so much that she flies off with them) and leaving the bear a gift. And the gift represents... not feeling invisible?

Honestly, I'm just confused. Maybe I didn't get it after all. (And I really don't get why this was thought to be a good story for kids. Aside from the cute bear, there's really not much here that seems like it's going to appeal to younger readers.)

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

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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