Picture Book Reviews: Door & Little Bear’s Big House
Two wonderful picture books courtesy of my friends at Raincoast Books on review today, each dealing with very different sorts of adventures! First I will be talking about Door by JiHyeon Lee, followed by Benjamin Chaud‘s Little Bear’s Big House.
JiHyeon’s debuted with the critically acclaimed and gorgeous wordless picture book Pool; the author and illustrator returns with the mesmerizing and unusual wordless picture book Door (also a Notable Children’s Books pick by The New York Times). In a world saturated by gray and brooding with seemingly annoyed, suspicious faces, we see a young child holding a key, eyes fixed on a little flying creature with a tiny snout like an elephant’s. The young child follows the creature to a cobwebbed locked door and ponders for a moment before turning the key. We see as the child enters an incredible world- a world filled with colours, a world filled with dance, music and togetherness, a world full of very kind, welcoming and compassionate beings. The child quickly and happily finds themselves comfortable and nestled in this amazing world, where it appears as though a difference in language or background has no rendering. While Door leaves us with a note of goodbye, it is one in which our protagonist does not appear sad, but rather alive with possibility, excitement and the promise of newfound friends to revisit. Door is lush with intriguing and happy details; a journey in which we get to stretch our imagination and- if only for the moment- find ourselves believing in the happy and the wondrous. Readers captivated by the out-of-the-ordinary, who love picture books such as Giovanna Zoboli’s Professional Crocodile, Carson Ellis’s Du Iz Tak?, Terry Fan and Eric Fan’s Ocean Meets Sky, or who love the work of Shaun Tan and Suzy Lee may especially adore this magical and lovely book.
Prolific and acclaimed author and illustrator Benjamin Chaud’s Little Bear’s Big House tells the tale of a young bear who decides that he is “tired of forest life” and decides to go on “big adventures” on his own. As his Papa Bear reminds him not to go too far, Little Bear “huffs and stomps. Stomp, stomp, stomp!” turning down other forest animals’ invites to play with them as he ventures farther and farther away from his family. Little Bear is ecstatic when he discovers “the most beautiful house he has ever seen”- a glorious, multi-storied red house- and like Goldilocks, finds that the house (and unlocked front door) beckons him to explore and have fun. Only…when night falls, sounds and noises become scary, and imaginings of horrible monsters wanting to eat a little cub take over…so much so that Little Bear decides to RUN! Absolutely delightful for perusing, for reading, for poring over- there is so much to feast over!- and filled with gentle zaniness that I always adore in books. If you have previously read and enjoyed Chaud’s books featuring Papa Bear and Little Bear (e.g. The Bear’s Song), then you will likely enjoy this terrifically told and visually entertaining tale that offers multiple visual stories and gags happening at once. Similarly, if you enjoy books heavy on delicious detail, along the lines of Steve Light’s Have You Seen My Dragon?, or funny, unexpected reads like Brief Thief by Michaël Escoffier and Kris Di Giacomo, Andrea Tsurumi’s Accident! or the work of Emily Gravett, you might especially delight in Little Bear’s Big House. Note: This title is a continuation of the series of the Bear books, though it absolutely works as a standalone!
I received copies of Door and Little Bear’s Big House courtesy of Raincoast Books in exchange for honest reviews. All opinions and comments are my own. Both titles have been published and are currently available.