Reading/Interest Level: Toddler, Preschool, Primary
Author: Zanni Louise
Illustrator: David Mackintosh
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Archie is not a boy; he is a bear! Therefore, he is understandably frustrated when people compliment his bear suit wherever he goes. One day he becomes fed up with the bear suit commentary, packs his bear snacks, and sets off into the woods. Amidst the trees Archie encounters a bear! Upon discovering the amiable nature of the bear, Archie praises, “I like your boy suit.” The disgruntled bear growls “It’s NOT a suit... I AM a boy.” The two then set off on an adventure which results in the discovery that bears and boys have much more in common than expected.
This text humorously and innocently explores the extent to which human character is alterable. The pen, pencil, ink, watercolor, and craft paper illustrations appropriately accompany the written text. The illustrator’s use of perspective is particularly tasteful and helps the reader further understand the nature of both Archie and the bear. These assertions in this story could lead children to a profound discussion about which parts of human identities are changeable and which are not. They may also discuss how to emulate characteristics exhibited among those with varying identities, using Archie as a model. Archie is not a bear, but he can be brave like a bear. Perhaps teachers and parents may compare and contrast this text with Leo Lionni’s Fish is Fish. Combining discussions of these two texts may lead readers to realize that people can both appreciate who they are and decide what they will be.