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Bear Tales: Three Treasured Stories by…

Bear Tales: Three Treasured Stories

by Vlasta Kampen

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Vlasta van Kampen is a Toronto artist well known for her bright, colourful illustrations (e.g. "Monkey Tales" and "Muddle Cuddle"). "Bear Tales" (Annick Press, 2000) is her collection of three short stories about bears, one each from North America, the Czech Republic and Russia.

Each piece is humourous and playful. In the first, 'Bear and Pig Went to Market,' Bear and Pig set up adjacent market stalls and then spend all day purchasing (and devouring) the other's offerings. Soon, both are sold out of goodies and because they have been passing the same nickel back and forth all day, neither has a cent more than at the beginning of the day.

The story about Igor and Ivan, two very lazy bears, ends with a twist – the bears are both so bone idle they refuse to get out of bed. As a result, they both miss a much anticipated picnic.

The drawings of these characters and their misadventures are charming without being over-sweet. Van Kampen's bright colours, bold shapes, and appealing creatures entice the reader to explore the sub-text hidden within each picture.

These traditional stories should find lots of contemporary fans. This is the kind of classic storybook that a child might ask for night after night.
  BiblioFool | Oct 8, 2006 |
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