Thursday, May 8, 2008
Bear's Picture by Daniel Pinkwater, illustrated by D.B. Johnson - review
Bear's Picture by Daniel Pinkwater, illustrated by D.B. Johnson
Why are bears such conduits for wisdom in picture books? Think of Drawing Lessons from a Bear. Zen Shorts (ok pandas aren't really bears but still). Winston of Churchill. Maybe because they're percieved to be big and fuzzy, strong but gentle. I guess it's all Gentle Ben's fault.
Pinkwater's bear is an artist. He dabs and daubs his painting to life, attracting the attention of two stuffy gentlemen critics, who tell him he can't paint, because "Bears aren't the sort of fellows who can do whatever they like."
Sound familiar? Like... a CHILD can't do whatever he likes? Oh, wait, if you didn't get it, "Besides... that is a silly picture. Nobody can tell what it is supposed to be."
The bear sticks up for himself, continues working on his beautiful picture, into which the men are swallowed. The painting eventually turns out to depict all the things that the bear treasures, and eventually, the bear himself.
Maybe I'm just in a cranky, cynical mood, but I just don't see the need for another book telling kids that they shouldn't listen to what other people say, they should go ahead and make art and be happy. Fact is? Nobody these days tells kids that their art is worthless because you can't tell what it's supposed to be. Nobody tells kids that they shouldn't try something new. This book would be fantastic if it were for 5th through 7th graders, who all of a sudden stiffen up and decide that if they can't be excellent at something right away, they're not going to do it.
The bear's picture, by the way, is terrific. Beautiful colors, super shapes. It's fun to watch it coming together.