Larry is a polar bear who, as we discover in Young Larry, falls asleep on a chunk of ice in Baffin Bay and wakes up in Bayonne, New Jersey. Stranded on a beach, what else can he do but become a lifeguard to earn money to buy the blueberry muffins he loves? Fortunately, just as he is about to be fired for being a polar bear, he saves the life of Martin Frobisher, who is so grateful to his new hero that he promises to buy a hotel with a swimming pool where Larry can be a lifeguard for the rest of his days. The affable polar bear's comical adventures continue to unfold in At the Hotel Larry, Bongo Larry, and Ice Cream Larry. In this endearingly odd picture book, Larry goes to Cohen's Cones, the ice-cream shop, where he complains of overheating and is allowed to sleep in the walk-in freezer. Of course, while he's in there, he eats 250 pounds of ice cream.
"I don't see how you can let a bear into your freezer and not expect him to eat ice cream," I said. "He ate a lot," Mrs. Cohen said. "Well, he's a bear." "I suppose." "I didn't eat any of the almond crunch," Larry said. "Could I have some now please?"The next day, Larry's picture is in the Daily World with the headline "Bear Eats 1/8 Ton Ice Cream," and the caption "'I do not feel sick,' says bear." The next thing you know, Mr. I. Berg from Iceberg Ice Cream tracks Larry down for a big marketing campaign. He takes the now famous polar bear away in a very large car to visit his modern-day ice-cream factory in Maryland, where together they develop the "Larry Bar." It comes in blueberry, bearberry, and even codfish to suit Baffin Bay tastes. The new advertising slogan? "I do not feel sick." Comic genius Daniel Pinkwater and illustrator Jill Pinkwater succeed again with this strange, and strangely sweet, story of the always polite and usually hungry polar bear and his devoted owners. Anyone who hasn't met Larry should really be introduced. (Ages 4 to 8, but amusing for all ages) --Karin Snelson
Grade 1-3-Another picture book starring Larry, that fortunate polar bear whose mishaps only serve to solidify his position as the beloved lifeguard at the Hotel Larry. This story begins when young Mildred Frobisher, daughter of the hotel proprietors, answers a call from a frantic ice-cream store owner; Larry has eaten an eighth of a ton of ice cream while resting in her walk-in freezer. The resulting publicity catches the eye of businessman I. Berg, who hires Larry as his celebrity spokesbear, complete with his own line of ice-cream bars, with flavors running from arctic almond to codfish, and the ad slogan: "I do not feel sick." As before, Larry's warmhearted and literal interpretations of the human world lead to hilarious misunderstandings. Daniel Pinkwater's masterful deadpan humor appeals to somewhat sophisticated tastes, despite the book's childlike look. The pen-and-marker illustrations convey the immense impact of Larry's presence on his human family. The combination of the absurd with the kindness of true friendship makes this a solid purchase.
Pat Leach, Lincoln City Libraries, NE
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.