A tenderhearted, life-affirming exploration of the depressive cycle through simple language and a rich visual vocabulary.
Bear and Smile seem inseparable. They do everything together: wake, munch, roam floral fields and wooded wilderness, plunge into waterfalls, and slurp golden gobs of honey. Suffused with a solar glow, vibrant illustrations undergirded by the inimitable texture of Arches paper initially exude the most wonderful warmth. All is clearly well—but, as the world has a habit of reminding us, great difficulties sometimes arrive abruptly. One morning—without warning, without reason—Bear finds himself alone. Smile is nowhere to be found. Amid Bear’s gloomy landscape, a few objects retain their true colors, but the rest of the world is subsumed by a deep blue malaise. Rabbit notices something is amiss and suggests Bear seek Smile in his favorite places; Bear searches everywhere, to no avail. Bear slurps a pawful of honey as a last resort; still, Smile doesn’t return. As hope fades, Bird swoops in and asks what’s wrong. Bear shares his sorrow, and Bird sits alongside him. They share the comfortable silence of confidants—until Bird begins to sing, softly at first, then louder as Bear hums in harmony. As they fill the forest with song, something stirs deep within Bear. As it rises, the world slowly shifts. Color imbues the page. Life irrupts anew. At long last, Smile appears on Bear’s face.
Invaluable in this moment and beyond.
– Kirkus Reviews *STARRED REVIEW, August 1, 2020