January 05, 2018

Middle Bear

Written by Susanna Isern
Illustrated by Manon Gauthier
Kids Can Press
34 pp.
Ages 3-7
October 2017

Reminiscent of the tale of the three bears, a middle-sized bear learns that he is neither too large nor too small to take on a challenge.  In fact, he's better than just right.
Retrieved from https://www.behance.net/gallery/25738405/Mediano-spain-2014 on January 5, 2018. 
The middle bear of three brothers understands well his place in his family.
He was not big, but he was not small, either.  Neither strong nor weak, neither tall nor short, neither a lot nor a little...
He accepted that his were middle-sized things–bicycles, umbrellas, clothes, dishes–but he didn't necessarily want to be the middle child as it made him sad sometimes.
From Middle Bear 
by Susanna Isern
illus. by Manon Gauthier
But when his parents fall ill and need willow bark, it is the middle bear who is able to fulfil the task, with the support of his siblings, simply by being neither the heaviest nor the smallest.
He was the middle one.
And being the middle one, he could do all sorts of things: small things, middle-sized things and big things, too.
Spanish writer Susanna Isern's story (originally published as Mediano in 2014) about the angst of the middle child becoming self-aware is simple and yet profound, all the more so for Manon Gauthier's cut paper collage illustrations. The artwork of predominantly sombre colours imbues an atmosphere of steadfastness in the bears' lives, complementing the three brothers' acceptance of their places.  However, Manon Gauthier's art demonstrates, with hints of rose and orange, blue and green, that there is lightness and opportunity for accepting something different.
Retrieved from https://www.behance.net/gallery/25738405/Mediano-spain-2014
on January 5, 2018.
Middle children, of which I am one, may not always know that they don't have to be relegated to a middling position of vagueness, and books like Middle Bear are great tools for inspiring young children, especially middle ones.  Middle children and bears should, and we do, aspire to be whatever they choose, big or small or in between.

Because I wanted readers to see how beautiful the double spread illustrations were, I shared several images from Manon Gauthier's Behance website at https://www.behance.net/manongauthier.  Because scanning a bound book does injustice to the illustrations, I chose to show readers the original artwork, in all its glory and sans distracting divides.  I hope readers and Manon Gauthier forgive me this indulgence.

No comments:

Post a Comment