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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
One Night in Beartown is a children’s animal picture book written by Nick Jones and illustrated by Si Clark. Sandy Lane loved bears, and she loved Beartown, the town where she lived. According to local history, the town had had its very own live bear many years ago. In memory of him, there were large bear statues situated throughout the town, including the large brown bear that stood guard right outside Sandy’s home. Sandy’s most beloved bear, however, was Berisford, a dapper bear wearing a bowtie who had been her grandmother’s before her. They were constant companions; they even went to school together. Then, one day, Tommy Pickles saw Berisford peeking out of Sandy’s bag and grabbed him. When Miss Waggs, Sandy’s teacher, saw Berisford, she was angry and confiscated the little bear. Sandy could have him back, but not until the following day. For now, he would have to stay in Miss Waggs’ drawer. The little girl cried herself to sleep that night imagining how lonely and scared Berisford must be all alone in that dark drawer. Then she heard a pebble striking her windowpane, and another. What was going on?
As I read the first page of Nick Jones’ One Night in Beartown, I found I was unable to stop smiling. The smile on Sandy’s face, echoed as it was by Berisford’s and that of each bear in her room were all quite contagious. The calm and wise visage of the bear statue outside her house compounded that sense of well-being, of good things happening in Beartown, and the story proves that to be so true. This marvelous fantasy story is magical and unforgettable. Si Clark’s bright and boldly colored illustrations work perfectly with the story; the facial expressions the artist gives each bear (and there are lots of them) are awe-inspiring and things of wonder in and of themselves. Based on the real-life story of Congleton, whose Bearmania event raised money to help protect and raise awareness of the plight of the Asiatic Brown Bear, this story is dedicated to the kids of Congleton. Young lefties in the reading audience might also want to confirm that Sandy is one of theirs. Lefties don’t often see themselves represented in books, so my kudos to the author and illustrator for this perk as well. One Night in Beartown is an awesome read; one of the best kids’ books this year; it’s most highly recommended.