“Yolen’s quiet text, seasoned with occasional rhyme, suits this tale of resilience. She gently celebrates how children build their own competencies by adopting imaginary friends and imbuing stuffed toys with their own increasing social-emotional fitness.”—Kirkus Reviews
Jane Yolen, one of the country’s most prolific and distinguished authors for young readers, is publishing her 400th book: Bear Outside (Neal Porter Books/Holiday House).
In this imaginative picture book, a girl explores the many ways she expresses herself by imagining that she wears a bear as her personal protective shell. They go everywhere and do everything together. The bear is like a suit of armor and a partner all in one, protecting her from bullies and giving her strength to be bold when she needs it. In turn, she listens to and takes care of the bear.
Yolen’s story beautifully portrays the relationships we have with our inner selves and is paired with the wonderful art of Jen Corace, whose illustration was the inspiration for this book. As Yolen says, in order to write 400 books, you have to get at 400 ideas.
One day, she came across Corace’s work and was especially taken with a picture of a little girl peering out of the mouth of a bear. “The child [did] not look frightened. She [looked]. . . empowered.” Yolen and Corace hope this book will inspire children to know even the smallest of us can wear a bear outside to help us be brave when the world is difficult to navigate.
Cover of Bear Outside provided courtesy of Holiday House Publishing Inc.