To be honest, I find oversized picture books to be a bit presumptuous. My perspective on picture books has been formed as a library staff person trying desperately to jam (gently, of course) too tall books into too short shelving. Therefore, an oddly sized book makes me cringe and think, “Who asked you to be so very large?” With that said, I was thoroughly charmed by the oversized, sweetly illustrated picture book The Bear’s Song by Benjamin Chaud
The book is a visual feast featuring large, detailed scenes that take the reader on an adventure from an idyllic forest to the colorful, bustling streets of Paris. Though the art in The Bear’s Song takes center stage, the story is well-paced and lyrically written. Little Bear is launched on his exploits by an enticing honey bee who fills his head with “honey thoughts” rather than “winter’s whisper.” Indeed, Papa Bear assumed he and Little Bear are snuggling up for hibernation when he discovers his cub has gone missing. In his pursuit of the honey bee, Little Bear disappears into a bustle of Parisians headed to the opera with Papa Bear desperately tracking him. Little Bear and his bee become a furry version of Where’s Waldo in the crowds. Readers are treated to a behind the scenes peek at preparations for the opera as Little Bear chases his honey bee all around the opera house until Papa Bear finally strikes upon a plan for getting his cub’s attention—a bear lullaby.
Happy endings abound in this picture book with tender reunions and a surprise discovery found on the roof of the opera house. Adventure continues for the father/cub duo in subsequent title, The Bear’s Sea Escape. For more intricate and charming illustrations by Benjamin Chaud check out A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School and I Didn’t do my Homework Because.