cover image Pup and Bear

Pup and Bear

Kate Banks, illus. by Naoko Stoop. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-399-55409-4

Discovered by a polar bear, an accidentally abandoned wolf cub flattens his ears against his head in fear, declares, “You are not my mother,” and expects the worst. “Aren’t you going to eat me?” he asks. But the polar bear, for reasons never expressed, demurs and takes the cub into her life. While insisting “I am not your mother” again and again, she does everything a mother would: she cuddles him, keeps him safe, plays with him, teaches him how to catch food, and (eventually) sends him into the world. Painted, once again, on plywood, Stoop’s compositions are largely composed along the same horizontal plane, mostly eschewing close-ups. And it works: the subdued visual mood is a lovely match for Banks’s unadorned prose, and the characters’ relationship to the harsh landscape underscores their resilience. By story’s end, when the wolf pays the polar bear’s kindness forward, it’s clear that offering compassion is what keeps “the wondrous wheel of life” moving forward. Ages 3–7. [em]Author’s agent: Rick Margolis, Rising Bear Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Oct.) [/em]