Bear and Bunny

illus. by Will Hillenbrand. 40p. Candlewick. Dec. 2015. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780763671532.
RedReviewStarPreS-Gr 1—Bear and Bunny became friends at the end of this pair's gentle whodunit Bear in Love (Candlewick, 2012), in which they learned about the reciprocity of friendship, and they remain inseparable in this iteration. Spending their days wandering and singing little ditties that add to the charm of the relationship, the two do not even recognize that they are of different species: "You see, the bear is sure that the bunny is a very small bear. The bunny is sure the bear is a very large bunny." The narrator says it would be too hard to explain, and it doesn't matter anyway. Whether this is an important global lesson on friendship or a statement about the animals' limited intelligence doesn't matter either. For the cliff-hanger in this story is the fate of a little frog adopted by the two…who believe he is a kitten. Hillenbrand's mixed-media illustrations are the real winners here, with a faded forest background creating a sense of place without distraction. Bear's and Bunny's gestures, expressions, and movements are simple yet full of humanity. A wonderful storytime addition and an opportunity for compare and contrast, perhaps with one of Bonny Becker's "Bear and Mouse" (Candlewick) books.
VERDICT Recommended for most picture book collections.

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