Where Is Bina Bear?

h1 February 4th, 2022 by jules


If you’re introverted like me — that is, big gatherings (especially with people you don’t know) bring you a very real anxiety and zap you of all your energy — then you will feel seen by Mike Curato’s newest picture book, Where Is Bina Bear? (Henry Holt, January 2022).

Tiny, a small rabbit, is having a big party. But instead of hanging out with the party-goers, Tiny is searching for Bina, a large purple bear. Where could Bina be? She is doing her best, hanging out alone in other rooms, to blend into the wallpaper, conceal herself underneath a lamp shade, or transform into furniture (or even, at one point, “groceries”). That’s because Bina doesn’t like parties, and in fact, a tear is shed over the stress the big social scene causes her. Tiny asks, “Then why did you come?” Bina responds with “Because I like you.” In the end, Tiny’s empathetic response to Bina’s dilemma is just right.

This is a story that blends humor and poignancy in a seamless way, and its pacing is spot-on. Children will immediately notice that Tiny is on to Bina, even if (while looking for Bina) Tiny likes to respond to statements like “I am a lamp” by saying, “Oh. Okay.” But Tiny simply doesn’t give up. In one spread, Bina transforms into a tree, and Tiny just sighs and swings right next to her. When Bina does her best to transform into a chair and blend into the room, Tina sits on her and says, “I miss her.” In the next spread, Bina is a bookshelf, and Tiny sits nearby, pretending to read but keeping some side eye on Bina, who does the same. The review for this one at the Bulletin for the Center of Children’s Books puts it well: It’s a “refreshing change from the usual ‘the more, the merrier’ message often seen in picture books, and … a useful reminder to respect the boundaries of both shy people and shy bears.”

Curato’s relaxed, friendly cartoon illustrations feature a palette that pops — with a saturated purple for Bina, vivid yellows, and soft pinks and greens. Be sure to remove the dustjacket for a surprise, and don’t miss the wonderful dedication: “to someone who is too shy to name.”

Here are some spreads. …


(Click spread to enlarge)


“Bina? Is that you?”
(Click spread to enlarge)


“… No. I am a table. …”
(Click spread to enlarge)


“Excuse me, have you —

(Click spread to enlarge)


(Click cover to enlarge)


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WHERE IS BINA BEAR? Copyright © 2022 by Mike Curato. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Henry Holt, New York.

One comment to “Where Is Bina Bear?

  1. So perfect! Happy to find I already ordered it for my library!

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