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Paulette Bourgeois. Illustrated by Maryann Kovalski.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 1989.
30pp., cloth, $12.95.
ISBN 0-921103-57-3. CIP.

Subject Heading:

Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8

Reviewed by Edith Strocen.

Volume 18 Number 2
1990 March

Whenever the boy stayed with his grandma, he enjoyed himself. He liked her house, her style of housekeeping, and the things they did together. Staying with Grandma would have been idyllic except for the bear in the basement.

Every day the boy is warned not to go down into the basement. Late one night the boy gathers up all his courage and goes down to look. He finds a bear but not quite the bear he was expecting. He also discovers the reason Grandma had been warning him about a bear in the basement. With an almost adult understanding, he decides to say nothing about the bear to Grandma but continues playing along in this game of pretend.

Illustrations by Maryann Kovalski are wonderful - full-colour pastel paintings featuring a rather eccentric looking grandma and her very apprehensive grandson. The setting is an older home, complete with the treasures that have been acquired over the years and a dark cobwebby basement.

The story is told by the grandson in first person. Primary children who heard the story reacted favourably but with varying degrees of understanding. Kindergarten and grade 1 students simply enjoyed the story superficially. Grade 2 and 3 children appreciated underlying concerns: Grandma was trying to protect her grandson from dangerous basement stairs and Grandma was perhaps too poor to get the stairs repaired; the grandson was showing face-saving consideration for these concerns when he continued to listen to his grandma's bear warnings.

This is Bourgeois and Kovalski's first collaboration.

Edith Strocen, Greenway School, Winnipeg, MB.
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