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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
A little boy takes a stroll in his garden with his teddy bear in Where, Bear? by Rachel Ellyn. Mom calls out to be careful, which seems a silly thing to say, since the boy has his bear and the bear has his boy. They wander around the garden together and the bear tells the boy to look at things differently, to use his imagination to conjure up kingdoms and safaris and trips to Mars. The boy and his teddy bear have a number of grand adventures as they walk around the garden.
When Bear tells the boy to look at something, the boy only sees what’s really in the garden. This illustration is a mere line drawing depicting the scene. When Bear describes the imaginative scene, like the castle, the illustration is a brightly colored scene full of amazing things. The illustrations in this book lead the plot to its satisfying conclusion when the boy and his teddy bear return inside and Mom asks, “Anything new in the garden?” Whilst the boy and his teddy bear have just shared many marvellous, imaginary adventures, everything in the garden is really just the same.
Imagination is a powerful tool. Author Rachel Ellyn’s picture book story, Where, Bear?, uses the power of imagination to inspire young readers to look at what might appear to be ordinary (like a tree in the garden with a treehouse in its branches) and see something grand and fantastic, like a medieval castle. Since young readers follow stories through illustrations while the words are read to them, the author has presented a collection of illustrations that inspire imagination. A good book to encourage young people to let their imaginations take them on marvellous adventures.