“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 

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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.

Buy this book!

About Jane Yolen:

Jane Yolen is the author of 400 books — including Bear Outside and Rum Pum Pum with Holiday House; Briar Rose; Sister Light, Sister Dark; Owl Moon; and the immensely popular The Devil’s Arithmetic. Her books have won awards including the Caldecott Medal, two Nebula Awards, the World Fantasy Award, the Jewish Book Award, and two Christopher Medals. SFWA named her the 2017 Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master for her contributions to the literature of Science Fiction and Fantasy. She lives in Hatfield, Massachusetts.

About Jen Corace:

Jen Corace is an artist and freelance illustrator who lives and works in Providence, Rhode Island. Originally from the suburbs of southern New Jersey, she eventually made her way to the Rhode Island School of Design and graduated with a BFA in illustration. Jen has collaborated with many authors, including Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Mac Barnett, Cynthia Rylant and Jane Yolen. If it weren’t for art and illustration, Jen would have become a marine biologist, exploring and drawing all of the mysteries of the wet deep.