By Leo Landry
Charlesbridge Press, $12.95, 32 pages

Bear loves making his friends laugh. He is very talented at writing jokes and his dream is to perform on the Woodland Stage as a stand-up comedian. Leo Landry’s book Grin and Bear It tells the story of Bear’s journey to make his dream come true. Every day Bear creates new material and practices in front of the mirror by himself. What do you get when a bear walks through your vegetable garden? SQUASH! But whenever he gets in front of a crowd, Bear gets too nervous to speak. On the night of the big performance, Bear freezes up before he can tell his first joke! Bear’s dream is shattered. Can his forest friends come to the rescue and help their pal achieve his goal? Sometimes thinking outside the box is the best way to solve a problem. This beginning chapter book is perfect for young readers ready for a story with more substance and characters. Kids will laugh along with Bear’s jokes and may be inspired to write their own. The tale includes lessons on friendship, perseverance, and teamwork. Landry’s pencil and watercolor illustrations will charm readers of all ages. Dreams can come true, even for bears with stage fright!

Reviewed by Kathryn Franklin