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Bear Goes to Town by Anthony Browne
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Bear Goes to Town

by Anthony Browne

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Having read previous reviewers' take on this book left me... not disappointed, but underwhelmed, I suppose. I didn't purchase this book with the specific hope of disturbing myself along with my 2-year-old and 4-year-old, but I was intrigued by the possibility. I do specifically endeavor to expose my children to creepy/scary stories along with all the wholesome classics to keep their childhoods interesting. That being said, I am also culturally Jewish, so I anticipated the WWII/Gestapo references to jump out at me.

Instead, I would personally say Nazis in any manner as a theme of this book are a bit of a stretch. It never would have crossed my mind had I not read about it in reviews, and I actually am heavily analytical with literature, even when it's just for my kids. For example, I dislike Rainbow Fish and use it as a cautionary tale - why on Earth does the rainbow fish literally have to dismember himself to gain the approval of those around him? Yes, sharing and charity are important, but that fish was literally shunned into hanging out pieces of its own body like candy just to appease others.

Yep, I'm THAT person... and yet I saw nothing untoward about this book, or anything that would keep me from reading it to my kids. It's essentially a continuation of Bear's travels with his magical pencil that can create items (and life, I suppose) out of thin air. Bear uses this tool to help out others and overcome his own obstacles as presented.

SPOILERS AHEAD (although, does this matter with picture books?) w/ 4-year-old's reactions

When walking along, Bear gets a bit trampled by some people who do not see him. 4-Y/O: "Oh no! They stepped on Bear!"

Bear meets Cat, who after asking him about the pencil tells Bear to draw him some food. 4-Y/O: "That was rude. Panda (from Please, Mr. Panda) would have said no."

Bear complies, Cat says thank you. 4-Y/O: "That was nicer."

Bear and cat walk past a creepy butcher shop. 4-Y/O: "I think that butcher is a miscreant." ("Why?") "He looks mean and like he wants to eat Bear and Cat."

Bear and Cat walk past a bear shop with a stranger hiding in the shadows. 4-Y/O: "Oh no! Who is that?"

Cat gets abducted. 4-Y/O: "Oh no, poor Cat!"

Bear draws roller skates to follow the cat. 4-Y/O: "I need to get some roller skates."

Bear finds Cat trapped with other animals. 4-Y/O: "Who are these other animals?" ("I don't know, it looks like they were taken, too.") "Maybe the butcher took them."

A sheep declines the rescue, and the other animals travel through Bear's drawn escape. 4-Y/O: "Why did the sheep stay?" ("Maybe the sheep was there too long and got too used to being a prisoner.")

The bad people give chase to Bear and friends. Bear draws some items to delay their pursuit. 4-Y/O: "Good job, Bear!"

They escape. They arrive in the middle of nowhere. The animals don't know what to do, so Bear draws them a nice home. 4-Y/O: "What is he drawing?" ("It looks like a meadow so they can live in a nice place.") "That's so kind of Bear."

So, yeah... not a particularly traumatizing event. I realize that all kids react differently, so if you have concerns I would skim through this book at the library or preview an online version so you can make your own judgement. It truly is an adorable book that introduces some advanced concepts (Stockholm Syndrome, for one) in a nonchalant manner that allows kids to individually decide if they want to discuss it further. Definitely glad this one is in our home library now. ( )
  py34tt | Sep 1, 2016 |
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Bear takes a walk in town and uses his magic pencil to rescue his new animal friends from an evil man in black.

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