Clear Bear’s clean, direct writing and big-hearted protagonist will engage children from all walks of life, while Aodhan Gyory’s illustrations, which carry the story, will intrigue and delight. Gyory has created a vibrant and interesting world, with the thick-furred bears distorted and frightening in appearance while Clear Bear’s kindness shines on every page. It’s impressive to create a character that’s fully transparent yet still so appealing.
While the overall message of this tale is sweet and well-intentioned, adult readers may feel discomfort with some of the implications of its handling of themes of difference and group cohesion. The text notes that the bears with thick fur and sharp claws “began to separate themselves according to the color of their fur” and later, after Clear Bear and Brave Bear return from the cave, celebrates a community of clear bears with no distinctions between them. Still, others will likely appreciate the exhortation to “Let your heart shine!” and to dare to be authentic and vulnerable. This little picture book has the power to provoke conversations about how to live with and love others (and yourself).
Takeaway: This endearing picture book will find its way into the hearts of young children who wear their hearts on their sleeves.
Great for fans of: Max Lucado’s You Are Special, Aaron Blabey’s Thelma the Unicorn
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: B