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Cover image for Bear needs help
Bear needs help
New York, NY : Philomel Books, [2019]
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 27 cm
A young bear needs help with an untied shoe.


Call Number
JP Brannen
+ Brannen

On Order



A lumbering little polar bear has one shoe untied, and he needs some help! Sadly for him, though, the other animals are all too scared of him- the lemmings, rabbits, and seals all run away as he approaches them for assistance. What's Bear going to do? Luckily, two plucky birds are more than happy to help out and offer advice -- though probably not quite in the way that readers anticipate. In this sweet and funny book about asking for help (and receiving it), expectations are flipped in a simple but clever way.

Author Notes

Sarah S. Brannen (www.sarahbrannen.com) is the award-winning illustrator of nearly twenty books for children. She lives in Massachusetts and is pretty good at tying her own shoes. Follow her on Twitter @SarahBrannen and on Instagram @SarahSBrannen.

Reviews 2

Kirkus Review

Even apex predators need help with their shoes sometimes.Brannen plays a sly joke with readers' expectations. Wandering over broad, flat Arctic scenes, a polar bear in four red sneakers, one untied, gingerly approaches in turn a herd of seals, a drove of Arctic hares, and a colony of lemmings. Understandably, all flee in panic before the bear can get out much more than "Excuse me." On the other hand, the situation is evidently familiar to two ptarmigans who waddle up. "Shoelaces again?" "Yup." The birds bend downbut rather than retie the loose shoe, they untie the other three. Off gambols the barefoot bear: "Thank you!" "He really needs to learn to do that himself," remarks one. The author tells the tale in dialogue so spare that several spreads remain wordless, brushing a sometimes-deceptive sense of serenity over events by filling skies, seas, ice fields, and the big, simply drawn animal figures with subtle flushes of transparent color. Expressions are comically anthropomorphic throughout. Leaving audiences the option to read the story as metaphorical or as just a comically surreal episode, she not only makes no effort to explain the shoes, but actually trots in a likewise-shod second bear at the end. (Go figure: Maybe there was a sale.)Laced with humor and, despite its minimalistic air, decipherable in more ways than one. (Picture book. 5-8) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

What do you do when you're a big, round polar bear and one of your four red tennis shoes is untied? Asking the seals for help doesn't work they swim away frantically. The whole bunny pack flees in alarm. Even the hordes of lemmings scatter in desperation. It's up to the white ptarmigans, who look askance at the discouraged bear and inquire: Shoelaces again? Then, a surprise: they untie the other three shoes, and the delighted bear jumps into the ocean. He really needs to do that himself, say the birds. But there's another surprise to come: when the lolling bear looks up from his icy swim, all he sees are the large feet of a big brown bear . . . with one untied yellow shoe! A circular story, for sure: children can imagine other animals with colored sneakers, going through the same dilemma. The almost-wordless picture book presents a simple lesson about problem solving. Every image is a double spread done in watercolor pastels and clean line drawings that portray the arctic animals' distinct personalities.--Lolly Gepson Copyright 2019 Booklist