The Bear and the Wildcat


When The Bear and the Wildcat meet, each is carrying a box. Within the Wildcat’s box is the violin, his constant companion. He plays his violin in the towns and villages to which he travels.

However, Bear’s box is handmade. It’s berry stained and ‘lined with petals‘. It holds Bear’s friend, Little Bird, the one with whom he greeted each new morning. Now Little Bird is gone and Bear’s completely lost without him. How can there be day after day without Little Bird?

Yet might the sunshine beaming upon Bear one new day ignite something in him? Then might Wildcat’s acknowledgement of Bear’s grief be the start of something new for Bear? Maybe even one with a tambourine?

Bookwagon loves The Bear and the Wildcat. This is an insightful, gentle picture book that contemplates grief and loss. The considered text and grainy, crosshatched illustrations are tender and aware. Bookwagon recommends this translated title highly to our readers.

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The Bear and the Wildcat

Written by Kazumi Yumoto and illustrated by Komako Sakai, translated by Cathy Hirano

(Gecko Press)

Bear’s at a loss. We find him crying at the death of his friend, a little bird. Thereafter, he finds a box, ‘stains it with berry juice and line[s] it with petals’. Then he places the body of his friend within the box, with coral coloured feathers and a ‘tiny black beak‘ that ‘gleam[s] like onyx‘. How can there be mornings to follow this? After all, didn’t they meet and greet each other every morning.
However when the sun shines upon him again, Bear’s alerted to Wildcat’s visit. It seems Wildcat’s a violinist. The pair share the contents of their boxes. The grass scented sky and the scuttling clouds are suddenly announcing themselves, it seems. Then again, Bear’s new companion offers that Little Bird ‘must have been a very special little friend’. Thereafter, Wildcat considers that he must ‘miss him a lot‘. It’s true. Bear’s ache for Little Bird is huge. Then again, what should he do now? Might there be an opportunity to become Wildcat’s companion, travelling and playing?
Kazumi Yumoto offers a sparing story of such weight and meaning. What’s more, Komako Sakai’s crosshatched, grainy pictures evoke Bear’s confused, aching bereavement. Like The Heart and the Bottle, The Bear and the Wildcat is a considered, beautiful picture book of comfort, hope and understanding.


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