Author: Daniel Pinkwater; illustrated by D.B. Johnson
Reading Level: pre-k, k, 1, 2
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Edition: Hardcover, 2008
Absolutely fabulous! The text is matter-of-fact; straightforward; and it conveys a great sentiment — the artist’s own interpretation is enough to make any artwork worthwhile. A bear can be a painter and he can paint whatever he feels like and see whatever there is in the picture without being told by others that he can’t paint or what his artwork means.
And the ART in this book is unusual, for sure. The contrast between the gray-scale color scheme of the three characters and the vibrant multi-colored painting keeps the readers’ focus on the “real” protagonist of the story: the painting, in progress and in its final state. I love how the bear’s scarf gets progressively messier, with more colors until it’s completely covered. And of course, the page where you must turn the book around to see the final picture from bear’s point of view of a bear that is embedded within the autumn honey tree, cool stream, hollow log, field of flowers, and the two gentlemen’s hats is such a beautiful and breathtaking moment! The color scheme reminds of of Kandinsky and Klee in their modern, abstract style. The final image of bear sleeping in the hollow log (his own creation) engulfed by the snow is the perfect and calm end note to a rigorous story.