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The Bear Who Wasn't There
Cover of The Bear Who Wasn't There
The Bear Who Wasn't There
And the Fabulous Forest
Borrow Borrow

“Irresistible . . . playfully existential."
O, The Oprah Magazine
"Bear's search for himself doesn't matter so much as the charm of Lavie's storytelling voice as he narrates it . . . Erlbruch gives the bear big, puzzled-looking eyes and a lovable grin. He lives in a forest made of ornate trees seemingly lifted from vintage engravings, whose delicate lines play off Bear's dumpy figure. Bear's encounters with various characters—the Turtle Taxi, the Penultimate Penguin—feature gentle wordplay and Lewis Carroll–like paradoxes . . . Everything is new to Bear, and his discoveries will delight readers."
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
"Erlbruch's playful, distinctive illustrations . . . are sublime."
Kirkus Reviews
"The volume is filled with surreal gags about prepositions and adverbs, cheerful absurdity, and down the rabbit hole–style musings."
School Library Journal
"The book is filled with the bear's paradoxical, enigmatic, and sometimes Zen-like musings as he meets various creatures in the forest who assist him . . . This one would make for a thought-provoking read-aloud at story time. Get those children settled—it's a lengthy text—and present to them this gloriously left-of-center tale. Watch their heads spin. It'll be memorable."
Kirkus Reviews, new children's books feature
"A lovable entertainment and quest venture that veers back and forth into existential territory without missing a beat of its adorable nature."
Center for Fiction
"Young readers with a philosophical nature and an appreciation for provocative silliness will be especially gratified by Bear's self-discovery . . . Erlbruch's illustrations, which look like etchings, fit the story well. The Fabulous Forest effectively evokes a fairy tale feel, and Bear, a portly fellow with huge eyes, a bright red mouth, and colorful flecks in his black fur, is loveable at first sight."
New York Journal of Books
"Imaginatively written by Oren Lavie and beautifully illustrated by Wolf Erlbruch, The Bear Who Wasn't There: And the Fabulous Forest is classic fable in the making and will prove to be an original and enduringly popular addition."
Midwest Book Review
"This cheeky book . . . is a melding of Phantom Tollbooth logic, Alice in Wonderland whimsy, and peppered with a cast of unforgettable Little Prince like characters . . . You can't help fall into the imaginative world of this delightfully clever picture book."
BookBloom
"It is mix between Alice in Wonderland's absurd characters and Shel Silverstein's poetic prose with a mix of the wonders of The Wizard of Oz . . . blended into a story that captures the idea of identity and so much more."
Mrs. Mommy Booknerd
"What a fantastic read!"
Reviews in Chalk
"Here's something for those of you who are tired of all the little bunnies and chicks found in picture books. He's big, lost and finding his way. You can help him find home."
Journey of a Bookseller
One day, a few minutes after Once Upon a Time, a bear awakes to find he has lost something very important: himself! He sets out into the Fabulous Forest to find himself, using only a few clues scrawled on a piece of paper: the bear he's looking for is a nice bear; he is a happy bear; and he's very handsome too! These sound like pretty good qualities to Bear, and so begins his memorable journey. With the help of Fabulous Forest...

“Irresistible . . . playfully existential."
O, The Oprah Magazine
"Bear's search for himself doesn't matter so much as the charm of Lavie's storytelling voice as he narrates it . . . Erlbruch gives the bear big, puzzled-looking eyes and a lovable grin. He lives in a forest made of ornate trees seemingly lifted from vintage engravings, whose delicate lines play off Bear's dumpy figure. Bear's encounters with various characters—the Turtle Taxi, the Penultimate Penguin—feature gentle wordplay and Lewis Carroll–like paradoxes . . . Everything is new to Bear, and his discoveries will delight readers."
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
"Erlbruch's playful, distinctive illustrations . . . are sublime."
Kirkus Reviews
"The volume is filled with surreal gags about prepositions and adverbs, cheerful absurdity, and down the rabbit hole–style musings."
School Library Journal
"The book is filled with the bear's paradoxical, enigmatic, and sometimes Zen-like musings as he meets various creatures in the forest who assist him . . . This one would make for a thought-provoking read-aloud at story time. Get those children settled—it's a lengthy text—and present to them this gloriously left-of-center tale. Watch their heads spin. It'll be memorable."
Kirkus Reviews, new children's books feature
"A lovable entertainment and quest venture that veers back and forth into existential territory without missing a beat of its adorable nature."
Center for Fiction
"Young readers with a philosophical nature and an appreciation for provocative silliness will be especially gratified by Bear's self-discovery . . . Erlbruch's illustrations, which look like etchings, fit the story well. The Fabulous Forest effectively evokes a fairy tale feel, and Bear, a portly fellow with huge eyes, a bright red mouth, and colorful flecks in his black fur, is loveable at first sight."
New York Journal of Books
"Imaginatively written by Oren Lavie and beautifully illustrated by Wolf Erlbruch, The Bear Who Wasn't There: And the Fabulous Forest is classic fable in the making and will prove to be an original and enduringly popular addition."
Midwest Book Review
"This cheeky book . . . is a melding of Phantom Tollbooth logic, Alice in Wonderland whimsy, and peppered with a cast of unforgettable Little Prince like characters . . . You can't help fall into the imaginative world of this delightfully clever picture book."
BookBloom
"It is mix between Alice in Wonderland's absurd characters and Shel Silverstein's poetic prose with a mix of the wonders of The Wizard of Oz . . . blended into a story that captures the idea of identity and so much more."
Mrs. Mommy Booknerd
"What a fantastic read!"
Reviews in Chalk
"Here's something for those of you who are tired of all the little bunnies and chicks found in picture books. He's big, lost and finding his way. You can help him find home."
Journey of a Bookseller
One day, a few minutes after Once Upon a Time, a bear awakes to find he has lost something very important: himself! He sets out into the Fabulous Forest to find himself, using only a few clues scrawled on a piece of paper: the bear he's looking for is a nice bear; he is a happy bear; and he's very handsome too! These sound like pretty good qualities to Bear, and so begins his memorable journey. With the help of Fabulous Forest...

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About the Author-
  • Oren Lavie has green eyes, long curly hair, and relatively cold feet. He was born in June, one week behind schedule, and has been trying to catch up ever since. He likes to sleep late but does his best writing early in the morning, which is why his best writing so rarely gets done. Oren is a musician, director, and author of children's books. His debut album, The Opposite Side of the Sea, was released worldwide to critical acclaim, winning him the prestigious ASCAP Foundation Sammy Cahn Award for his lyrics. The music video for "Her Morning Elegance" was nominated for a Grammy Award and became a YouTube hit. Oren wrote "A Dance 'Round the Memory Tree" for The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian movie. The Bear Who Wasn't There is his first book to be published in the US.
    Wolf Erlbruch is one of Germany's most renowned illustrators; his work is respected and loved around the world. Among his many awards, Wolf has received both the Gutenberg and the German Children's Literature Award, as well as a Hans Christian Andersen Illustrator Award. His previous book, Duck, Death and the Tulip, sold more than 100,000 copies and was published in nineteen countries.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from July 18, 2016
    In songwriter Lavie’s debut, originally published in Germany, Bear’s search for himself doesn’t matter so much as the charm of Lavie’s storytelling voice as he narrates it. Bear materializes, improbably, from an itch that grows as it scratches itself. In his fur he discovers a pocket with a note inside. “Are you me?” it reads. “Helpful clues to look for: 1. I am a very nice bear. 2. I am a happy bear. 3. Very handsome too.” Erlbruch (The King and the Sea) gives the bear big, puzzled-looking eyes and a lovable grin. He lives in a forest made of ornate trees seemingly lifted from vintage engravings, whose delicate lines play off Bear’s dumpy figure. Bear’s encounters with various characters—the Turtle Taxi, the Penultimate Penguin—feature gentle wordplay and Lewis Carroll–like paradoxes. “There are exactly Beautiful flowers around the tree,” Bear concludes after counting flowers with the penguin. “Beautiful is not a number,” the penguin retorts. “Oh, but I just counted,” Bear says. Everything is new to Bear, and his discoveries will delight readers. Ages 3–7. Agent: Katelyn Detweiler, Jill Grinberg Literary Management.

  • Kirkus

    A text-heavy picture book presents an existential quandary......but it can't seem to decide whether or not it would really rather be a nonsensical one. As this book was originally published in German, perhaps something was lost in (the uncredited) translation? The titular Bear who wasn't there suddenly is there after an Itch scratches itself on a tree and becomes a bear. The Bear then discovers a pocket in its fur and a list of clues below the question "ARE YOU ME?" and ventures off to see if it is indeed "A VERY NICE BEAR...A HAPPY BEAR...VERY HANDSOME TOO." Encounters with various animals in the Fabulous Forest eventually lead the Bear to conclude that he is both very nice and happy, but he's still not sure about the handsome part. Eventually he ends up at a house with a sign on the door reading "HOME OF THE BEAR WHO WASN'T THERE (please enter quietly, he may be asleep)." Once inside, the Bear sees his reflection in the mirror and decides that, yes, he is handsome too. Throughout, Erlbruch's playful, distinctive illustrations outshine the text and offer ample visual interest, which may help readers sustain interest despite the rambling and often confusing text. The picture book as a whole isn't quite all there, but the pictures are sublime. (Picture book. 4-8) COPYRIGHT(1) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    September 1, 2016

    Gr 1-3-In this large-format existentialist meander by Israeli author and musician Lavie, a bear starts off as an itch that is scratched against a tree until it grows to its full size and is covered in fur. The bear then journeys through a forest, meeting improbable characters as he seeks an answer to the question, "Are you me?" Three clues he finds in his pocket drive him to interact with the Penultimate Penguin, Convenience Cow, Lazy Lizard, and Turtle Taxi. The volume is filled with surreal gags about prepositions and adverbs, cheerful absurdity, and down the rabbit hole-style musings. Its length makes it unlikely to hold the attention of younger children. The illustrations, by renowned German artist Erlbruch, are a combination of digitally pixelated backgrounds, rubber stamps of flora, and heavily textured animals. VERDICT An artsy and unusual picture book for a very select crew of older readers. An additional purchase.-Lisa Nowlain, Darien Library, CT

    Copyright 2016 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Mrs. Mommy Booknerd

    "It is mix between Alice in Wonderland's absurd characters and Shel Silverstein's poetic prose with a mix of the wonders of The Wizard of Oz . . . blended into a story that captures the idea of identity and so much more."

  • Journey of a Bookseller "Here's something for those of you who are tired of all the little bunnies and chicks found in picture books. He's big, lost and finding his way. You can help him find home."
  • Journey of a Bookseller "A joyful trio of language, picture, and wordplay, as accessible and delectable to a child as to an adult."
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    Akashic Books
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And the Fabulous Forest
Oren Lavie
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