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Nina Marie Corona
Clear Bear

Children/Young Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Market)

CLEAR BEAR is a story about a bear with clear skin, which allows his heart to shine brightly and warm the others around him. The message is a timeless one: Deep inside, beneath our thick skin, fur of many different colors, and sometimes scary sharp teeth -- we are all the same! And if we allow our hearts to shine forth, we can warm the hearts of others and help them to "shed their fur" too. This 34-page hardcover picture book includes vibrant, colorful illustrations. Its themes of inclusion, equality, authenticity, and love are appropriate for children of all ages. After all, deep inside, we're all children too!
Public speaker and artist Corona’s Clear Bear is a tender illustrated children’s book with a lot of heart -- quite literally. Born with transparent skin, the titular bear’s heart shines brightly through his chest so that everyone can see it. The other bears of his acquaintance have thick fur, sharp claws, and a lack of visible hearts, and Clear Bear, frightened by their differences, hides himself in a cave where, alone, he can fully be himself. One day, a thick-furred bear called Brave Bear realizes that Clear Bear is gone and sets out to find him. As the two bears spend time together, Brave Bear begins a transformation, losing fur and growing clear himself, until his own heart shines through.

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

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: A
Editing: B-
Marketing copy: B