Curious bears trigger a media frenzy. It all starts when Jean Louis, the host of the kids’ show Our Furry Planet, pokes a sleeping bear. The bear rears up, startled. Jean Louis flees, and the bear’s not far behind. He and a pal perch atop the Our Furry Planet truck gleefully, with arms in the air as if riding a roller coaster. Across the bottom of every double-page spread, updates appear in a blue ribbon, just like on the TV news channels. Except here, the updates are dire while the bears are clearly no threat. As people run screaming through the streets, the bears calmly take in the sights. When two terrified kids abandon their toy vehicles, the bears happily jump on. (Mom’s so excited to be on television she doesn’t notice a thing.) In hats and human clothes, the bears go unnoticed at a department store. (Hysterically, the mail bear’s outfit resembles Paddington’s, while the female’s dress looks an awful lot like the Berenstains’ Mother Bear’s.) Outside, the bears make a beeline for an ice cream truck, inadvertently interfering with robbers making a getaway. In an instant, the bears go from fugitives to media darlings. Biedrzycki delivers a genuine message with a light touch. His Adobe Photoshop illustrations are bold and playful, appropriately reminiscent of vintage Hanna-Barbera and a good match for the slapstick story.
Fun and topical.
Chaos reigns in this mock televised caper, when a children’s nature show called Our Furry Planet is interrupted by a bulletin about two bears on the loose. The brown, cartoonish bears ramble along upright, try out binoculars acquired from the frightened Furry Planet host, and appear oblivious to the panic they cause as they dance in the streets and visit a photo booth. Biedrzycki (Me and My Dragon), whose illustrations call to mind Dan Santat’s work in the Oh No! books, composes the landscape-oriented pages as a wide-screen, high-definition news broadcast, complete with man-on-the-scene interviews–a clueless mother is too busy with her phone to notice the bears; a diner cook explains his refusal to serve the “barefoot” bears–a scrolling blue ticker with updates from a “Skycam 3” helicopter, and multiple security videos. Two burglars and their cat take advantage of the fray, as seen on video at a “Paddington’s” department store, until the bears accidentally foil the crooks and are deemed heroes. Bear wordplay, puns, and children’s book references abound in this romp, which comically exploits our cultures of distraction and surveillance.