cover image Sweater Weather

Sweater Weather

Matt Phelan. Greenwillow, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-293414-7

Getting ready to go out is a major production for a bear parent overseeing seven obstreperous cubs. In Phelan’s (Turtle Walk) cozy domestic world, the stubby cubs—miniature versions of their huge, furry parent—are all dressed in pajamas; an even smaller infant cub crawls thoughtfully over the rug. “Sweaters on!” orders the adult, after viewing the glorious autumn day outside. The cubs’ expressions telegraph a variety of reactions: worry, skepticism, cheerful anticipation. Leaving the bears to it and settling down to knit, the bear caretaker eventually calls upstairs to check: “Sweaters on?” “Not yet,” comes the answer. In nearly wordless vignettes, gestures and facial expressions do the comedic work as Phelan imagines ever more hilarious ways for small cubs to don big sweaters. When the family finally makes it out the door, a slight disappointment, and a small miracle, await. Phelan creates instantly likeable characters and a story that centers parenting seasoned enough to realize that setbacks are inevitable—and that makes space to enjoy the day, and beauty of nature, anyway. Ages 4–8. Agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (Oct.)