Borne on Greene's detailed, nocturnal pastel illustrations, this realistic tale rises above its matter-of-fact roots to take on hues of wonder and imminence. One night, a hungry black bear cub wanders innocently into a neighborhood, unaware of its sleeping inhabitants. As he searches for the food he smells, a chain reaction wakes a family and raises a sudden storm of police sirens and piercing lights. The bruin is saved from gunfire when a camera's blinding flash sends him crashing through a fence and out of range. After a fearsome night of hiding in nearby bushes he makes his way home in the dim, pre-dawn stillness. While the book's voice (narrative is in the present tense), layout and, in particular, illustrations call to mind the style and quality of Chris Van Allsburg's work, Murphy's account is distinctively naturalistic and down-to-earth. Its ending cleverly segues into a newspaper-style report on the encroachment of human civilization on wilderness habitats (this story, in fact, is based on an actual event). As a reportorial memoir emotionally enhanced by dramatic illustrations, this book embodies a rare hybrid tone. Ages 5-8. (Feb.)
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
K-Gr 2-- A young bear, forced out of his natural habitat by an older, territorial bear, is lured into a suburban neighborhood by the smell of food. Through dramatic prose, readers follow his encounters with clotheslines, a raccoon, a barbecue grill, dogs, and people, including the police. He manages to elude all searchers, and at dawn lumbers back to the forest. Murphy concludes with information about bears and the news clipping that inspired the story. The pastel illustrations in deep blues, greens, and luminous whites are naturalistic in their portrayal of landscapes and figures. They span lengthwise across the book, offering a sense of open spaces and the atmosphere of the night. As the animal becomes entangled with civilization, the composition gets more crowded and off balance. An exciting story, and one that is becoming more common in real life all the time. --Karen K. Radtke, Milwaukee Public Library
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
In his latest animal story, Murphy focuses his attention on the plight of the black bear in America. A hungry young bear flees from an alluring blackberry patch when an older male brutally stakes out the territory. Hoping to squelch his hunger pangs, the young bear ventures into civilization, attracted by the smells from garbage cans. The bear makes noise, waking a sleeping family. Before long, the bear is trapped in a backyard with a growling dog, surprised parents, their son with a camera, and the local police, who threaten to shoot the animal. Fright and survival instincts provide the bear with enough stamina and speed to escape into the woods, where he begins anew to search for food. Although this story is fiction, it is based on fact, according to the note and bibliography at the end. Greene's dark pastel drawings are extremely effective in showing the night scenes, with their shimmering cast of moonlight.