Bunnybear by Andrea J. Loney and Artwork by Carmen Saldaña

[Review Copy Courtesy of My Public Library]

BunnyBearBunnybear is absolutely wonderful. The illustrations are beautiful, the characters are excellent, the way the story unfolds is captivating, and the themes of being who you are, acceptance, kindness, and friendship are uplifting and well crafted. Readers will identify with Bunnybear immediately and emotionally they’ll experience a wide-range of emotions as they read along – but ultimately feel understood.

This is a wonderful picture book for everyone who feels different on the inside than the way they may look on the outside – which pretty much is everyone. Feel like an artist but you’re a doctor? A scientist but you’re a dancer? A writer but you’re a mathematicians? Feel like girl in a boy’s body? A chef among dieters? You get the idea. You can interpret and apply this book to an infinite number of scenarios and it all rings true.

Bunnybear may look like a bear and live among bears, but truly doesn’t feel like a bear. He feels like a bunny and calls himself Bunnybear. He confounds and defies other bears’ expectations of him. They tell him to stop acting like a bunny and be a bear. Bunnybear leaves and doesn’t tell his mother (not okay, Bunnybear!) and while he is in the meadow sees a bunny. Bunnybear wants to go say hello, but naturally the bunny is all, Woah, run away, a bear is chasing me!!! He follows the bunny to a den full of more bunnies. He’s super excited. He’s reveling in all the bunny things they are doing that he loves so much, but the bunnies are not so happy about this. The elder bunny asks him a couple of questions and then kicks him out.

He’s sad, the readers are sad, and at this point we’re all having a hard time. What he loves more than anything, how he really feels inside, and what he strives to be, has just flat-out rejected him. Just because you see yourself one way, does not mean that you will be accepted as such. It’s a surprisingly harsh scenario with a rough but realistic consequence.

But then a bunny approaches him. This is no ordinary bunny, this is the one and only Grizzlybun! She may look like a bunny, but she definitely acts like a bear. Bunnybear is a little surprised and isn’t so sure at first. But it doesn’t take long for them to realize that they are kindred spirits. They hang out, have fun, and enjoy the freedom of getting to be themselves. But then Mama Bear shows up and wow, is she angry. Grrrr.

Bunnybear introduces Grizzlybun to his mama and it is a happy reunion. She’s thrilled he’s found a friend that accepts him for who he is and they hug. Super sweet moment here, folks.

Then out of nowhere the elder bunny shows up and gives his congratulations to Grizzlybun and says it is time to go home. It really feels like there is a page or two missing from the book here. The Mama Bear gets three pages of gradual reunion, but the elder bunny is just suddenly there. What can I say? Sometimes bunnies can be sneaky like that and sometimes conforming to that 32 page format forces you to make a few jumps. That and this is such a nice story, you really don’t want it to end so fast. But if it has to end, best to end it with a party. The bunnies throw a party for all the animals and Bunnybear has that wonderful feeling of truly belonging. It ends with other animals (a bee that moos, a bird that meows, a fox that flutters, etc.) revealing to us that they feel different, too.

Bunnybear is a delightful story with enchanting artwork that encourages those who feel different to seek that sense of belonging, and for those that already belong to be kinder and gentler to those who are still searching.

This book is nominated for a Cybils Award in Fiction Picture Books. Have you nominated a book yet? You have until October 15th, 2017. I hope you will!  Click here to learn more. 

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Where Obtained:  I received a review copy from my fantastic library. No other compensation was received.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

FTC Disclosures:  Some of the links in the post above are Amazon affiliate links. If you click on the link and purchase something, I will receive an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you. Which goes to fund my family’s picture book habit.  It’s a vicious cycle, but we manage.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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