Book Review - Little Cub

Author/Illustrator: Olivier Dunrea
Publisher: Philomel (November 27, 2012)
Source: Personal Copy
Audience: 2 to 6 years
Friendship * Foster Care * Bears

Description from GoodReads:
A darling companion to Old Bear and His Cub from the New York Times bestselling creator of the Gossie books.

What's an Old Bear to do when he finds a Little Cub all alone and afraid of the dark? Adopt him, of course! And help him try to get over his fears. In this book we see the father and son from Old Bear and His Cub meet for the first time--and grow to love one another.

With the same bold art and humorous twist on parenting, Olivier Dunrea's tumbling bears will melt your heart and show how strong the bond is between any father and son pair.

My thoughts on the book:
I am a softie for picture books with bears.  I seem to always be picking them up and reading them.  So it was no surprise that I would pick up Little Cub when I saw it in the bookstore.  As much as I adore bear picture books, I usually am a little harsh on the one more mother/child or father/child or grandparent/grandchild story that is meant to tug on the heartstrings.  However, Dunrea manages to completely win me over with his story about an orphaned cub and a crotchety old bear.  Little Cub is all alone and Old Bear is pretty set in his ways.  I love how Dunrea contrasts the two with the illustrations.  In one scene you have Little Cub, who is hungry, contemplating how he could catch a fish.  On the next page, you have Old Bear walking along with his catch of the day.     

Just as the illustrations contrast, the text does the same:
Every morning, the little cub splashed in the stream.
He watched the silvery fish swimming around his toes.
"Hmmpf," said the little cub.  "I wish I knew how to catch a fish."
But there was no one to teach him.
Turning the page....
Every morning, Old Bear trudged to the stream.
He caught a large fish for his breakfast.
"Hmmpf," said Old Bear.  "I wish I had someone to share this fish with."
But there was no one.
Dunrea understands his young audience.  Simple yet detailed pencil and gouache on watercolor paper pop on stark white backgrounds.  Text that has a pattern and a predictability allows young pre-readers to learn the rhythm of the story and to "read along".  Additionally, there is enough emotion and "awww" without being too saccharine.  

Of course, readers who began with Old Bear and His Cub two years ago will know that these two will ultimately find and adopt each other.  Yet there is something special about seeing how Little Cub and Old Bear came to be.  These two bears certainly caught my heart and I hope they catch yours. 
Check out the Little Cub page on Dunrea's site.  I loved seeing an original page before it was transformed into a book page.

Old Bear and His Cub (Board Book released November 2012; original hardcover 2010) - the original story of Old Bear and Little Cub is now available in a board book format.   

Little Cub or Old Bear and His Cub by Olivier Dunrea are perfect holiday gifts for special little ones in your lives.  They are available at your local bookstore.  Remember to buy from an Independent Bookstore when you can.

For more information about Olivier Dunrea: website | blog