Today’s book review is for The Other Bears, by Michael Thompson, published by Star Bright Books. I received an electronic advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
The Koala family is having a lovely day at the beach, happy to be called “bears”–until the other bears arrive. Mother and Father are suspicious. These other bears are different. The parents complain about the strange clothes, different features, and unusual cultural artifacts. The children, however, are delighted to meet new friends. They revel in new food, music, jokes, games, and stories. Finally, Mother and Father Koala see how happy their children are and decide maybe these visitors aren’t so bad, after all.
Thompson has written a wonderful little story about diversity and acceptance that will resonate with children and adults alike. His language is clear and accessible to his young audience. He repeats the same structural elements so that children can predict what will happen next. There are even occasional alliterative aspects that are fun to read. I think that kids will easily recognize how irrational and ridiculous the grumbling koala parents are being.
His illustrations are even better. Thompson has a lovely style–it’s light, bright, and clean. Images are lively and detailed. Each “bear” is attired in clothing representative of the human cultures that live in the same region of the world as they do. I especially liked the parkas and mukluks on the polar bears, and the bicycles of the sun bears. I just wish that the font selection for the text had better matched the illustration style. It felt a little pasted on.
This would be an excellent selection for a story time focused on tolerance and acceptance. It also provides an opportunity to discuss some of the cultures highlighted in the story. The Other Bears earns 4 out of 5 stars. It’s a great resource for parents or educators and has a wonderful message. I’m even willing to overlook how much it irritates me that people continue to include koalas and pandas on their lists of bears.
You can find more information about this book, including other reviews, at Goodreads.