The Bear and the Little Green Thing by Diandian

The Bear and the Little Green Thing by Diandian. Berbay Publishing, 2022. 9780645069648

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3

Format: Hardcover picture book

What did you like about the book?  This book opens wordlessly, with a bird dropping a seed, which lands on the back of a giant bear. A tiny plant springs forth and has a one-sided conversation with the huge creature. The loquacious seedling has a lot to say about everything it can offer the bear: it will be his fan when it’s hot, a guard when he’s sleeping, and a perennially chatty companion. The bear never answers; he just falls asleep and the seedling’s ramblings turn philosophical. Does the bear ever get lonely? Will the bear recognize the little tree when he ventures into the forest in the spring? “Some friends stay with you even after they’ve left”, intones the plant. The oversized book features intriguing illustrations, with lots of texture and simple shapes. The sophisticated color palette is full of moody, organic grays and browns, with the bright green of the new leaves really popping off the page. 

Anything you didn’t like about it?  Despite the attractive artwork, I’m guessing this book will elicit puzzled looks from the 4-8 year old set. Overall, the mood was pretty heavy and the message confusing. The bear never talks or even seems to notice the plant; are we supposed to take away that we don’t pay attention to trees and plants or recognize how essential they are? Or is it about unequal friendships? I missed the sardonic slyness that Jon Klassen was able to bring to The Rock from the Sky. In contrast, this story felt both overwrought and underdeveloped. 

To whom would you recommend this book?  Picture book readers may enjoy looking at the pictures and contrasting the giant bear with his very small plant companion. 

Who should buy this book? Public libraries

Where would you shelve it? Picture books

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: April 11, 2022

This entry was posted in *Book Review, *Picture Book, A.B. Greenfield, Diandian and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.