The Bear and the Piano by David Litchfield

Published by Clarion Books 

Summary:  When a bear finds an abandoned piano in the forest, he’s drawn to return to it day after day until he becomes a virtuoso.  He loves playing for all his animal friends.  One day a boy and a girl happen upon one of his concerts and convince him to go back with them to the big city.  The bear hates to leave his friends, but the idea of traveling and playing for large audiences is too tempting to pass up.  Off he goes to a new life of fame and fortune, performing in sold-out venues to adoring crowds.  But as time goes by, he misses his friends, and one day, he chucks it all and returns to the forest.  He’s worried that his friends are angry that he left them, but soon he discovers that they have been cheering on his successes from afar and have kept his piano safe for him.  The bear plays a concert for the most important audience of all.  40 pages; ages 4-8.

Pros:  A touching story about loving and supportive friends and getting back to your roots.  The illustrations were created “using a variety of traditional techniques, then assembling the different elements digitally to create large-scale, dramatic scenes” (from the back flap), and are gorgeous.

Cons:  How can a bear play the piano with no fingers or opposable thumb?

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