Where Is Bina Bear?

Holt. Jan. 2022. 32p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250762207.
PreS-K–Tiny the rabbit is throwing a party but cannot find Bina Bear. Bina is hiding, disguising herself as a lamp, a table, a tree, a chair, a bookshelf, and finally and most unconvincingly, as groceries. The mounting absurdity is heightened by the two characters continuing to interact, with Bina repeatedly claiming that she is not Bina. As the silliness hits its peak, the story takes a hard swerve into sensitivity, and the shift nails a satisfying emotional landing. When Tiny asks if she’s okay, Bina tearfully admits that she does not like parties. Tiny does not try to convince Bina to step outside of her comfort zone or to be brave. The little rabbit simply offers affection and validation. When Tiny joins Bina in hiding from the rest of the party, the book reverts to silliness while simultaneously showing what it means to stand in solidarity with a friend. “Little Elliot” series creator Curato masterfully blends humor and pathos to create a sincere story celebrating unconditional acceptance. The pair’s emotional journey is powerfully represented through color. The house and partygoers are all breezy pastels, Tiny the white rabbit often stands against a sunny yellow background, and in stark contrast to everything else is Bina, the dark purple bear. Tiny’s comfort envelops Bina in yellow, and a moment of panic is expressed in electric neon pink. The last illustration of the two animals, dancing while still wearing lampshades on their heads, reassures young readers that the pair found a way to enjoy the party together. This book would prove an excellent prompt for classroom discussion as well as a vibrant read aloud.
VERDICT A gloriously simple and funny story of empathy, recommended for first purchase.

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