“The charming text and great illustrations help compensate for the imperfect theme.”
Bear and squirrel are shown seesawing, canoeing, having tea, and taking a taxicab to an igloo, with squirrel in the lead as bear lovingly follows. However, the igloo is a little too crowded for squirrel, who hesitantly says so and asks for a little alone time, to which bear, though surprised, agrees and heads home. After some appreciated time alone, squirrel realizes how much he misses bear and takes off after him, telling bear they’re “joined at the heart.” Small’s praiseworthy, modern illustrations excellently use white space and exude character while adding interest, humor, and additional storyline to Prasadam-Halls’ charming text—notice the first seesaw incident compared with the latter, the chipped teacup, and the cute frog and bugs. The juxtaposition of bear and squirrel’s different sizes and the switch of narration adds to the book’s aspect of push and pull, but the transition of the story’s themes feels slightly amiss among the combined text and illustrations. While the text begins and ends with a theme of love, interrupted in the middle by the need for a little alone time (which would have improved the storyline if it had been portrayed as a positive moment), the illustrations show an unbalanced affection until squirrel gets tired of being alone and appreciates being close to bear. While not exceptional, the book makes for a fun read with sweet text and delightful illustrations.
Smriti Prasadam-Halls has been a children’s writer and editor for more than ten years and has written several children’s books, including the bestselling Jingle Jangle Jungle, illustrated by Axel Scheffler. Smriti lives in Richmond-upon-Thames.
For Gabriel—who is brilliant in every way, and whom I love unbearably much