The Invisible Bear, by Cécile Metzger

Review by Logaine Navascués

Tundra Books, Penguin Random House Canada, 4 August 2020

40 pages, hardcover, $21.99 CAD, 978-0-73526-688-9

Ages 4-8, Grades Pre K-3

Picture Book

How to draw something that feels invisible? Cécile Metzger’s light and airy watercolour illustrations for The Invisible Bear manage to do just that: engulf the reader in invisible feelings and emotions, which are materialized through tender images.

In Metzger’s story, a bear feels invisible in his gray and lonely world until an unexpected neighbour arrives and shows him how colourful life can be. The sparse text is written in short and descriptive sentences that interact perfectly with the images. Metzger’s blurry, grayscale images that represent the bear’s feelings contrast with the exuberant, organic forms that fill the page when we see cheery and lively Madame Odette and her blooming garden. The clever use of white background makes the bear appear and disappear into the image: his figure either merges, producing the effect of invisibility, or is outlined and highlighted by the contrast created by the other colourful illustrations.

The poetic and ethereal images create a reflection of the abstract nature of the text, and the reader must fill in many gaps to arrive at their own conclusions and interpretations. The heartwarming pictures and thought-provoking words result in a profound reading, both for the mind and the heart. This book is a must-have in any library and personal collection, and would make a great addition to a classroom activity exploring friendship, empathy, cultural differences and identity.

The Invisible Bear will hit the shelves on August 4th, 2020!

Logaine Navascués is a Peruvian artist, writer, creative director, teacher and book maker, currently living in Vancouver. She is the proud mother of a beautiful daughter and two artist’s books. You can find her reading, collecting picture books and eating chocolate while pursuing her MA in Children’s Literature at UBC.

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