Grin and Bear It
Leo Landry, author & illustrator
Leo Landry is the author/illustrator of several books for children, including Eat Your Peas, Ivy Louise!, and Space Boy. Leo is also the illustrator of Friends and Pals and Brother, Too. He lives in North Easton, Massachusetts.
Read more about Leo Landry.
- Parents Magazine's 20 Best Children's Books of 2011
- Capitol Choices Noteworthy Titles for Children and Teens
- A Junior Library Guild Selection
- Bank Street College of Education's Best Children's Books of the Year 2012
The title of Landry's (Space Boy) spry chapter book could easily be a punch line from its protagonist's repertoire of pun-centric jokes. An aspiring stand-up comic, Bear dreams of making his friends laugh (" 'You're so funny, Bear,' Fawn would call. 'Great jokes!' Chuck would shout"). He's fine practicing his routine in front of a mirror, but his confidence crumbles whenever he speaks in front of a crowd: "His knees knocked. His paws paused. His fur froze." After much practice, Bear decides he's ready to perform onstage and invites his friends to the show-- at which he bungles all his jokes. Mortified, he runs off to the local watering hole, but a hummingbird, also a would-be comedian, finds his discarded sheet of jokes and hatches a plan that will benefit them both. A deft balance of punchy, dialogue-driven text and expressive, appealingly naïf pencil-and-watercolor pictures make this well suited to newly independent readers. With humor and subtlety, Landry's words and art impart a smart message about partnership, ingenuity, and pursuing one's goals.
Bear’s dreams of being a standup comedian are stymied by his stage fright in this chapter book for new readers.
Bear knows what’s funny, from riddles to puns to plays on words, and he longs to make it in the big time at Woodland Stage. When he finally gets his big chance and all his buddies are in the audience to cheer him on, Bear freezes. He mumbles the words to his jokes, flubs the punch lines and eventually runs off the stage and into the forest, humiliated. His dreams crushed, Bear falls asleep in a puddle of his own tears. Lucky for Bear, though, he finds a new dream and some new friends along the way. Landry’s droll pencil-and-watercolor illustrations are filled with humorous graphic elements and little details that will encourage children to slow down and enjoy the text and the pictures. The seven very short chapters move along quickly, helping new readers gain confidence. With more words per page than generally seen in an early reader, this is an ideal bridge to slightly more challenging books.
Everyone—Bear, friends and readers—will laugh in the end.
Bear's dream is to make his friends laugh and to tell his jokes on Woodland Stage. He is so nervous in front of an audience, though, that he messes up his act, and the uncluttered pencil-and-watercolor illustrations show him crumpled up and alone after failure. Then he pairs up with Emmy, a tiny, hilarious hummingbird, and when Bear writes the jokes and Emmy tells them onstage, they both get huge applause. From the title on, this simple chapter book is filled with wry wordplay, and the puns pop up in the pictures, too. At a ball game, what is the proper way to hold a bat? By its wings, as the picture shows. What kind of bird works at a construction site? A crane, of course. What do you get when a bear walks through your vegetable garden? Squash! Kids will appreciate the funny scenarios that reflect their own language mix-ups as well as the warm camaraderie among the animal friends.
The Horn Book Magazine
“Bear had a dream. His dream was to make his friends laugh.” But poor Bear has stage fright, and his debut appearance on the Woodland Stage flops. Despondent, Bear goes to the local watering hole, orders a root beer, and says to himself: “What’s the use? I’ll never tell another joke again.” But when hummingbird Emmy, a gifted performer but lousy writer, finds Bear’s crumpled up list of jokes, she perceives its comedic genius and regales the crowd with an impromptu performance. Bear’s friends, recognizing his work, introduce the two and thus create a symbiotic partnership between two comedians with different skills. There are as many jokes in this book for newly independent readers as small carrots in a class of first graders’ lunch boxes, including puns (“What do little girl cubs wear in their hair? Bear-ettes!”) and play with multiple-meaning words (“What do you get when a bear walks through your vegetable garden? Squash!”) And, like any good joke, several bear repeating, thus speeding up the reading task. Seven chapters divide the narrative into small segments, while the numerous pencil and watercolor illustrations (both full-page and spot art) clarify the action and add depth to characterization. For example, when Bear appears on stage, his deer-in-the-headlights portrait perfectly complements the alliterative text: “His knees knocked. His paws paused. His fur froze.” A honey of a book.
ISBN: 978-1-60734-779-8 EPUB
ISBN: 978-1-60734-303-5 PDF
Page count: 48
6 x 8