Jonathan Bentley, Is Bear Here?, Little Hare/Hardie Grant Egmont, 1 June 2017, 24pp., $24.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781760129811
Adorably enchanting plot and pictures command sustained attention throughout this book about a boy in search of a bear. Only those with astute minds will remember the true identity of ‘Bear’ from Bentley’s previous surprising tale, Where is Bear? However, with or without this prior knowledge, the unexpected finale is just as delicious this time around!
Discerning eyes will delight in spotting the mostly conspicuous (although sometimes glaringly obvious) bear, Theodore, always one step ahead of the young boy as he searches the town for his missing Bear. With the same child-like voice and rising tension of panic as in the prequel, the thought process, emotion and questioning as to his beloved teddy’s whereabouts perfectly engages the reader’s compassion and curiosity. It’s all too satisfying when just as defeat is admitted, a glorious turn of events brings a rewarding surprise not just once, but three times!
Is Bear Here? is gorgeously illustrated with the quintessential dosage of precise detail to draw our eye to the continual action and all the noteworthy bits. With a tenacious, relatable character, interactive language and the dramatic excitement, toddlers and preschoolers will adore every second of exploration and discovery. They will never tire of searching for Bear. Highly recommended.
Reviewed by Romi Sharp