(K-Gr 2) Tongue-in-cheek and filled with innuendo, Erlbruch's story parodies the euphemistic approach to the age-old question of where babies come from. In the springtime, awaking from hibernation, a young bear's fancy turns to...fatherhood. The lumpy, congenial creature has a problem, though. "...he just couldn't figure out what you have to do to become a papa bear." Various animals tease him: "Babies, my dear, grow in turnip fields"; "You spread some sugar on the windowsill and wait for the stork." Some children will jeer at all of this. Others, however, will be left in the dark by the vague, suggestive conclusion. The bear remembers a story his mother often told him about a miracle cloud "where bear cubs play before coming into the world." Suddenly a pretty female enters the picture, and in a seductive conversation promises, "If you give me your hand, next spring we could have some marvelous bear cubs." And so, "they went to look for a soft place in the middle of some long, some very long, grass." Aw-shucks. Erlbruch's cartoon drawings of the affable bear and other animal denizens are quite comical and there are some funny lines. Libraries would have to figure out the most likely audience for this goofy romance.
by Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston