A playful bear makes an ephemeral friend.

An expressive little black bear befriends something “red as a berry / and round like the moon / with a long silver string” in this sweet story. The bear has large ears, a white nose, and tottering, toddler-ish proportions sure to charm, and his buoyant companion somehow manages to “smile back at him like a friend” through vibrancy alone. The straightforward writing floats through Chien’s soft-textured, multimedia illustrations with heartwarming ease as the pair dance, find honey, and roll down a hill in glowing, abstract landscapes. When the inevitable occurs, as any little one enamored with something as squishable and huggable as a balloon will learn, the bear’s sorrow overcomes him. “Bad bear, / he thought. / Bad, bad bear. // Night fell, / but the bear / skipped his dinner.” The little bear sinks into deep blue spreads, but his grief melts even the heart of the moon, and with a little celestial reassurance, the bear comes to value his good memories, giving the book a satisfying amount of substance. In the author’s and illustrator’s expert hands, readers are sure to feel lighter than air and ready for bed. The dreamy spread in which the bear receives his message from the moon is worth a mention all on its own, charming and cheerful as the rest of the book may be, as are velvety lavender endpapers featuring the balloon and the moon.

As delightful as a balloon—but with more weight.

(Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: today

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7191-3

Page Count: 52

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2020

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