Koala Is Not A Bear (Kristin L. Gray)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Koala Is Not A Bear, written by Kristin L. Gray and illustrated by Rachel McAlister, a curious case of mistaken identity.

Koala is delighted to be going to camp for the first time, but also a bit nervous; she wants to fit in. When she arrives, she spends a great deal of time searching for her cabin, unsure where she belongs. She is stopped by friendly Grizzly, who welcomes her into the Bear cabin – that is until Kangaroo speaks up: “Koala is NOT a bear!” Grizzly and Koala point out their many similarities (climbing trees, pointy teeth, growling, etc.), but Kangaroo counters each by noting other non-bear animals who share these traits as well. Content to spend time with her new friend, Grizzly and Koala brush off her protests and sit down to lunch with Duck, only to have the persistent Kangaroo confront them with a textbook as evidence. Feeling unwelcome, Koala suddenly wants to go home to be with her family… but one final revelation may prove that family is closer then she thinks.

There were definitely things to like about this one; the colorful and engaging art, the adorable character design, the brilliant surprise ending, and it’s a fun way of learning about koalas and marsupials in general. However, I have trouble getting past Kangaroo’s approach to the situation: her method of pointing out Koala’s identity has a nasty, know-it-all quality to it; when Koala sadly breaks off from her new friends for a moment of homesickness, Kangaroo pursues her and continued to point out the ways she doesn’t belong in Bear Cabin. This in and of itself is not terrible, but the fact that she immediately switches gears to friendly and welcoming when she realizes that she and Koala are related struck an odd tone. If Kangaroo has been less aggressive in proving her point, or even more contrite for hurting Koala’s feelings after the fact, it might have given her character a bit more sympathy. However, this was a very enjoyable book otherwise – the length was fine, and JJ enjoyed it. I would say it’s worth the read, so we’ll call it Baby Bookworm approved.

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

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