Wednesday, September 14, 2016
The Bear Who Wasn't There: And the Fabulous Forest by Oren Lavie & illustrated by Wolf Erlbruch
Oren Lavie's The Bear Who Wasn't There and the Fabulous Forest is one of those not-so-typical books. It will require a different type of parent or adult to purchase this publication for a child. Those who step out of the box of the ordinary and branch out to the quirky, non-realistic, thought provoking book that is filled with bold and unusual art will acquire it or read it to a child and will be the ones who open the seed pod of insightful thought for the child.
Will the young child grasp the "outside myself" tone of The Bear Who Wasn't There? Probably not. But it will surely tickle their imagination and mom and dad will surely gain a deep chuckle at some of bear's thoughts and quirky answers.
Bear wasn't "there" but an itch was there so the itch scratched itself upon a tree. The more it scratched the larger the itch became until it was bear. Now, I really don't think that this is delving into "creation" and an "out of nothing" theory. It is simply a nonsensical intro into getting bear into the story and into the forest that was, at that point, a single tree.
The story progresses as bear wanders deeper into the growing forest. He meets several other critters in the forest and these meetings give a sense of "Alice in Wonderland" deja vous.
The story teaches that you are you, yourself. It teaches you to be happy. It teaches you to accept yourself as "handsome," lovely.
The illustrations are very focused on the forest and its growing density. There is a good variety of foilage and though the book is primarily in deep greens, black, tans, and browns there are small spots of color that brighten the pages. I love the different look of this art and appreciate that each artist has his or her own style or styles and they utilize their specific talents to bring life to the text the author has composed for a story. This is a good combination of story and art.
About the book: A magical, lyrical picture book debut from acclaimed composer and playwright Oren Lavie, illustrated by beloved German illustrator Wolf Erlbruch.
One day, a few minutes after Once Upon a Time, a bear awakes to find he has lost something very important: himself! He sets out into the Fabulous Forest to find himself, using only a few clues scrawled on a piece of paper: the bear he's looking for is a nice bear; he is a happy bear; and he's very handsome too! These sound like pretty good qualities to Bear, and so begins his memorable journey. With the help of Fabulous Forest critters like the Convenience Cow, the Lazy Lizard, and the Penultimate Penguin, Bear finds that he himself is just what he's been looking for all along: a nice, happy bear—and handsome too!
As whimsical as Winnie-the-Pooh and as wryly comic as Klassen's bear who wants his hat back, The Bear Who Wasn't There joins a select crew of unusual bears who have captured the imagination of children for generations.
Wolf Erlbruch is one of Germany's most renowned illustrators; his work is respected and loved around the world. Among his many awards, Erlbruch received both the Gutenberg and the German Children's Literature Award, as well as a Hans Christian Andersen Illustrator Award. His previous book, Duck, Death and the Tulip, sold more than 100,000 copies and was published in nineteen countries.
DISCLOSURE: I received an ARC Early Reviewer's copy from Librarything.com in a contest. I freely give this review of my own opinions without compensation.