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story.lead_photo.caption "Soaked!" by Abi Cushman (Viking Books for Young Readers, July 14), ages 3 to 7, 40 pages, $17.99 hardcover. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Celia Storey)

TITLE: "Soaked!"

BY: Abi Cushman (Viking Books for Young Readers, July 14), ages 3 to 7, 40 pages, $17.99 hardcover.

STORY: Bear is a gloomy bear who wants us to know that being wet is no fun, not for Bear, not for any of Bear's friends, not even though they might appear to be surreptitiously frolicking with things Bear has dismissed as ruined by the rain.

Bear is drenched. Bear's umbrella is missing.

When everyone troops into Bear's cave, it's too small to accommodate the Hula-Hooping Moose.

Bear decides to go back outside, sit on a log and wallow (figuratively) in misery. The other animals appear to go along, but they don't look exactly miserable. Moose is having a blast. Rabbit has adopted Bear's cashmere sweater; Badger has slurped up the remains of Bear's ice cream ...

When the Hula-Hoop flies away from Moose and sticks in a tree, everybody climbs on top of Bear to free it. Bear slips and -- sploosh — everyone is drenched. And Bear is suddenly in a better mood, even agreeing to try the Hula-Hoop.

But then the sun comes out and it's — ugh — too sunny.

"Soaked!" is a charming character study that presents a chance to get kids talking about the power of attitude and paying attention to other people: all the things Bear hasn't even noticed about his friends.

Read to Me is a weekly review of short books.


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