There’s No Such Thing

Albert Street. Oct. 2021. 32p. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781760877279.
PreS-K–Bear’s first time camping at night is an opportunity for his imagination to run wild with the sights and sounds of the forest. Accompanied by his very rational stuffed bear named Ted, Bear is startled from his slumber by a noise that surely belongs to a blood-sucking spider. Ted assures Bear that, in fact, the noise is more likely a cricket chirping. A little later in the evening Bear is awakened by large booms, which he is convinced must be the footsteps of a giant wandering in the woods. Ted reasonably offers the counterpoint that the noise is thunder. The tension peaks when something touches Bear’s feet and while he assumes it is a fire-breathing dragon tickling his toes, Ted suggests that Bear simply felt the brush of a moth’s wings. Bear and Ted finally fall fast asleep, dreaming of delicious treats, when Ted is awoken by the smell of roasting marshmallows. And who is roasting those marshmallows? None other than the blood-sucking spider, the giant, and the fire-breathing dragon. While the narrative arc initially follows the anxiety in unfamiliar situations that children so often experience, the abrupt conclusion delivers no redemption. Slightly older readers will appreciate the punchline, but smaller listeners will need conversation. The illustrations are simple and digitally rendered with a hint of texture, while the color palette brims with vivid purples, blues, teals, and greens made even more rich by the black nighttime background.
VERDICT The ending is muddled for young children in the audience, making this an additional purchase for most collections.

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