by Richard T. Morris
Publishers Weekly What begins as a solo log ride down a river for Bear turns into a group adventure as new forest animals join the pileup hurtling through the water. Each has a different approach to the wild ride: the turtles worry about what could go wrong, while the raccoons delight in the "twists and turns." All are surprised, though, when they realize where they're headed: a waterfall, which, after a dramatic plunge, lands them in a calm, communal pool. Text by Morris (Fear the Bunny) bounces along with appealing repetition and rhythm, but it's cleverly designed illustrations by Pham (Stop That Yawn!) that make this offering a standout choice for reading aloud. Varying perspectives amplify both the drama and the humor, particularly in wordless scenes that move from the vertiginous animals'-eye-view to their comically shocked faces to an aerial image that emphasizes how far the drop will be. And the forest's gradual color shifts, from muted grays to the brilliant hues in the final scene, echo the story's underlying message: connecting with others makes life richer, more vibrant, and a lot more fun. Ages 4-8. Author's agent: Alice Tasman, Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency. Illustrator's agent: Linda Pratt, Wernick & Pratt Literary Agency. (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal PreS-Gr 2–The dramatic cover, featuring a large hand-lettered title and a close-up of an alarmed-looking bear, sets the stage for a spirited adventure. Venturing out of his cave, a curious bear climbs out on a tree that breaks off and falls into a river. Starting what becomes a natural "log flume" ride, Bear initially moves slowly, picking up Froggy and the Turtles, then a string of various animals. Each creature gains specific knowledge through the quest. Bear doesn't know he was on an adventure until he finds Froggy. Froggy doesn't realize she has friends, until the Turtles join them, etc. Watercolor, ink, and gouache illustrations are well-designed to expand the text, using each animal's expressions and body language to convey their individual roles. Front and back end pages both act as maps of the river, but also provide an introduction and an epilogue to the tale. A dramatic spread, positioned from the animals' point of view, shows them on the edge of a precipice about to take the plunge. A page turn shifts to a facing view and all the creatures' wide-eyed expressions. One more turn pulls the focus out to long range, showcasing the river, the drop, and the animals perched precariously. As they fall, however, their expressions are mostly cheerful, then exuberant, ending with "Oh, what a ride!" VERDICT Full of messages about seizing the day and learning from one another, this jaunty tale and its large-scale, immersive pictures expansively invite readers to come along, too.—Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA
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Book list A big brown bear doesn't know what a river can do until he falls in. As the water rushes on and he floats away on a log, Bear inadvertently finds a number of new friends. A frog hops on his head, turtles climb aboard, a beaver and raccoons drop in, and the whole gang crashes into a flock of ducks. All the while, the river is twisting and turning and heading for a deep-drop waterfall. The two-page spread in which the animals observe their fate is priceless, varying between uncertainty and shock. But the fall turns out to be much more delightful than anticipated, with even more new friends appearing. Anyone who fondly remembers the similarly themed Little Golden Book Big Brown Bear (and everyone else!) will have warm feelings toward this river-riding fellow who isn't expecting what he finds but embraces the experience and happily accepts the friendships that come along with it. Pham's artwork here is delightful as she paints between the lines of sensational and silly. Her vivid colorings and imaginative design command attention, as does her focus on the blue water, which swirls and whirls with both fun and purpose. Most important, she uses her watercolor, ink, and gouache artwork to build the simple story to (mixing metaphors here) a breath-holding cliff-hanger. Perfect for listeners in story hours or on laps.--Ilene Cooper Copyright 2019 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Horn Book This boisterous adventure is about discovery and friendships forged when least expected--all in the form of a wild log-ride. A river "didnt know it was a river" until...Bear shows up. Bear doesn't know he's on an adventure until...a frog leaps onto his head. And so it goes until...the animals plummet over a waterfall in an exhilarating vertical spread. Pham's illustrations have a 1980s-cartoon feel yet remain fresh. (c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus A succession of forest creaturesand even the river itselflearn from one another and validate their relationships with both one another and the wider world.The simplicity of the text and the stylized, comical creatures belie the depth of the message that comes through for even the youngest of readers: We are all in this together, and our differences strengthen our unity. The river "didn't know it was a riveruntil" Bear accidentally begins riding down it on a piece of broken tree trunk. Bear in turn doesn't realize he is on an adventure until Froggy lands on his back; lonely Froggy doesn't know how many friends she has until the wary Turtles show up on the ever-more-swiftly-moving log; the Turtles learn how to enjoy the ride when Beaver climbs aboard; and so on through several more characters until they are all at the brink of a waterfall. Outstanding art perfectly complements the text, showing the animals' differing personalities while also using color, space, and patterns to create appealing scenery. There are several hilarious double-page spreads, including one from the animals' collective perspective, showing solely the various feet on the tree-trunk-cum-raft at the waterfall's edge, and one requiring a 90-degree turn, showing the plummeting animals as they reach for one anothersome looking worried and others, like Duck and Beaver, obviously enjoying the sudden drop.To quote one particularly joyous double-page spread, "Oh, what a ride!" (author's note, illustrator's note) (Picture book. 2-5) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.