October 8, 2020


The Bear and the Moon by Matthew Burgess and Cátia Chien is a sweet story about love and loss.

A little bear wakes up from a long nap and sees a small red circle floating closer and closer until he notices that it has a string attached: it's a balloon! He and the balloon experience some growing pains and he tries to figure out what it is, but soon they are inseparable, with the bear taking the balloon everywhere he goes. But one day he plays too hard, the balloon pops, and he blames himself. The bear has to go through the tough process of learning to forgive himself and be kinder about his feelings toward himself.

The illustrations are a mix of acrylics, collage, pastels, and charcoals, all of which are layered loosely to create a dreamlike quality. Like the story lulls listeners into a sense of reflective calm, the illustrations heighten the atmospheric feeling we read about in the text. While the illustrations are bright and many are set against a stark white background, the bear's depressed mood toward the end is also reflected in the dark colors Chien chose to use during those key emotional scenes.

The Bear and the Moon published last week from Chronicle Books. And you can also read an interview I did a few years ago with Cátia about her illustration process here.

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