Brown Paper Teddy Bear

Reviewed: July 13, 2005
By: Catherine Allison / illustrated by Neil Reed
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
32 pages, $22.99

In a world filled with bright, noisy electronic amusement, this book celebrates magic, dreams and older toys.

The magic begins when Jessica wakes up to find a strange chest of toys in her bedroom. Neither it nor its contents are familiar to her, but she quickly falls in love with the brown teddy bear she finds wrapped up in a brown paper package. Untying the red ribbon, she frees the bear and apparently triggers its magic.

Awakening, the bear invites her to join him on a trip to visit his friends. So Jessica finds herself on a neverland journey to another playroom filled with old fashioned toys. These also come to life and spend the night playing with her. There's a jack-in-the-box, a stuffed monkey, toy soldiers, a dancing doll, a model train, carved wooden animals and many other things. She has a fantastic night out and then the bear takes her home.

The next morning the chest is gone, but the bear is still there, and her grandfather says it is his.

The story is beautifully painted and printed on brown paper that has the texture of wrapping pap, though it is of much better quality. Reed has chosen a realistic painting style which goes well with Allison's old fashioned story.

Here's a story that may give youngsters some ideas about how to stretch their imaginations without  using batteries.