Picture Book Review: Soaked! by Abi Cushman

A Hula-Hooping moose, a badger with a bumblebee umbrella, a rabbit in a cashmere sweater, and a very wet bear star in this unpredictable and laugh-out-loud picture book in which having fun gets the best of a grumpy bear.

It looks like a wet and dreary day for Bear and his trio of friends. How could he possibly have fun when he is soaked? But Badger, Rabbit, and Moose don’t seem to mind. In fact, Moose can still hula hoop! And it looks like so much fun. Might Bear like to try?

Here is a story that shows that fun is not dependent on sunshine and blue skies. In fact, it might be more fun to be soaked!

Take heavy rain. A huge puddle. A number of Hula-Hoops. A cashmere sweater. A bumblebee umbrella. A curmudgeonly bear. A moose, a rabbit, and a badger. If you mix them all together- well, if author and illustrator Abi Cushman mixes these elements all together!- you get the fantastically entertaining picture book debut Soaked!.

Narrated by an irascible (and darling) Bear, Soaked! follows down-in-the-dumps, sarcastic Bear and his group of friends- Badger, Rabbit, and Moose- as they contend with an incredible rainy, “blah” day. Bear tells readers right from the get-go that he doesn’t care for rain. Can you make beautiful sandcastles in the pouring rain? Can you enjoy an ice cream cone out in the rain? Can you wear your special cashmere sweater out in the rain? Bear thinks not! When a lumbering trip back to his cozy cave with his friends turns into an uncomfortable, too-squished experience- made all the worse by Moose who is endlessly practicing Olympic-level-style Hula-Hooping!- Bear and friends decide to venture back out into the gloomy and wet day. And, unfortunately, things get even gloomier for Bear. His trusty blue umbrella with the bumblebee print has gone missing; Badger mysteriously has the same umbrella, but apparently it is definitely not Bear’s; and Moose will not stop whooshing away with the Hula-Hoops. But a mission to rescue a stray Hula-Hoop leads to a tremendous splash and a drizzly discovery that maybe getting soaked isn’t all that bad. Cushman’s storytelling is marvelous here, giving readers a remarkably fresh story with lovable characters and specific details that all add up to make Soaked! a hilarious and memorable story. The pencil and digitally coloured illustrations are also something to behold: I have had the opportunity to pore over Soaked! multiple times now, and each time is a happy surprise. Whether a particular illustrative detail catches my attention (Moose in arabesque pose!), or I am simply revisiting one of the gorgeous spreads, there is so much for readers of all ages to delight and (excuse the pun) soak in here.

Overall, Soaked! is a splendid joy of a picture book. For readers who love to be surprised with a laugh-out-loud picture book or readers who enjoy stories featuring ornery but lovable bears (or other animals!) along the lines of Mother Bruce, Please Don’t Eat Me, I Love You Already!, or The Bear Ate Your Sandwich, Abi Cushman’s impressive debut is a highly recommended, fabulous pick.

I received a copy of this title courtesy of the creator and Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and comments are my own.

Author: michelle@fabbookreviews

Reference & Children's Librarian. Reader. Reviewer.

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