Bear and Wolf

illus. by Daniel Salmieri. 48p. Enchanted Lion. Mar. 2018. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781592702381.
RedReviewStarPreS-Gr 2—The story opens with readers positioned behind and a little above Bear's head as she gazes at falling snow, a circle of bare trees, and a small wolf in the distance. When the perspective reverses, viewers see that Bear is smallish as well. Highlighted with subtle strokes of pinks and blues, the snowfall creates an arresting wonderland. The narration, placed at the bottom of exquisite full-spread compositions, combines a third-person distance with moments of dialogue. Those used to conflict when two such notorious predators inhabit a story will soon relax: they both truly are, as Wolf explains it, "out for a walk to feel the cold under my paws, and to listen to the crunching of the snow as I walk." They proceed together. Salmieri's authorial debut reveals his thorough understanding of pacing and the interplay of words and pictures. Colored-pencil strokes create a lively energy in the creatures' fur and in the later view of the woods in a vibrant spring palette. Gouache and watercolor—and rubbed in pigment shaved from pencils—create softness and depth. Without comment, the companions take in dazzling, enlarged snowflakes; the patterns of a snowy owl; colorful fish asleep under the frozen lake. The call of nature pulls one to hibernation and the other to chasing caribou, but not before they exchange hope for a future (realized) encounter.
VERDICT Without a whiff of didacticism, Salmieri shows readers how to appreciate beauty, invite friendship, express gratitude, let go, and walk in the world. An engaging read best shared one-on-one.

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