The Bear and The Piano, by David Litchfield; Clarion Books, 32 pages, $16.99, ages 4-7.
If a bear plays a piano in the woods, does he make music? In David Litchfield’s debut picture book, the answer is a roaring ‘yes.’ In it, a precocious bear stumbles upon a bramble-covered piano that has somehow been miraculously deposited in a forest glen. The creature is instantly drawn to the instrument, and despite initial disappointment with his efforts, the bear keeps practicing, until he is serenading great gatherings of grizzlies. When discovered by humans, the bear dons a tuxedo and hits the road, finding fame tickling the ivories. What happens when he misses home and how his friends greet the bear upon his return is a touching testament to hometown pride and everlasting friendship. Litchfield’s mixed-media illustrations are full and lush, captivating with glimmering detail. Readers of all ages eagerly await the author’s encore performance.