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Another Celebrated Dancing Bear


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A ``heavy-footed brown bear whose heart is soft as butter,'' Boris is unhappily employed at the animal hospital. When he sees an ornate poster announcing that his friend Max, ``the celebrated dancing bear,'' is about to tour St. Petersburg, his discontent overwhelms him and he can't control his tears, even as he bravely struggles to congratulate Boris. But Boris, too, is soft-hearted, and he sets about teaching Max to dance. Scheffrin-Falk's first picture book gracefully confronts jealousy, self-doubt (Max ``felt a little foolish. Dancing lessons at his age!''), the value of persistence and the power of friendship. Garrison's etchings, framed like snapshots and hand-colored to highlight certain objects (a sash, a jacket, a flower) against sepia-like backgrounds, infuse the volume with the feel of an antique scrapbook. This old-world flavor further enhances the nostalgic imperial Russian setting, replete with samovars, graduated Russian peasant dolls (here shaped like bears) and distant spires. Ages 5-7. (Mar.)

K-Gr 1-- Set in Czarist Russia, Another Celebrated Dancing Bear is the story of a friendship between elegant Max, a famous dancer with the Moscow Circus, and simple Boris, who works at a local animal hospital. When Max learns of Boris's unhappiness with his job and envy of Max's fame, he resolves to teach his friend to dance. After many weeks of lessons and practice, Boris is able to join the Moscow Circus. Garrison's warm etchings printed in burnt-umber ink and highlighted with watercolor washes capture the setting and period, giving a flavor of antiquity. They help transport children to another place and time to experience some of the caring and sharing in the relationship of two rather special bears.-- Barbara B. Murphy, Shaler Area School District Libraries, Pittsburgh, PA

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