Dyckman, Ame. Horrible Bear! illus. by Zachariah OHora. 40p. Little, Brown. Apr. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780316282833; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780316271233.
PreS-Gr 2 –In the mind of a child, mistakes are often misinterpreted as malfeasance, and the resultant anger can be contagious. Dyckman writes a simple story about just such a mistake. A little girl loses her kite in a bear’s den, and when he rolls over in his sleep, he crushes it and becomes a HORRIBLE BEAR! Though the little girl seems to have some strategies to deal with anger (reading, painting, talking it out), it isn’t until she mistakenly tears her own stuffed animal’s ear that she gets some clarity about what really happened in that cave, and in her heart. Meanwhile, the bear is trying out his own righteous anger, charging to the little girl’s house for a stand-off. A simple “I’m sorry” turns horrible into sweet. In reality, such spontaneous forgiveness and acceptance are rare, but cutting to the chase does readers no harm here. OHora’s acrylic paint on paper illustrations are vivid and childlike. Thick black lines miraculously convey a range of emotions, and the girl’s pile of bright red hair with black curlicues serves as a metaphor for both her anger and her exuberance. Molly Bang’s Sophie finally has a worthy shelf-mate for absolutely spot-on characterizations of mood. VERDICT Highly recommended for picture book collections.
This review was published in the School Library Journal January 2016 issue.