Bear's Picture by Daniel Pinkwater, illustrated by D.B. Johnson
Two gentlemen out walking saw the bear.
"Bears can't paint pictures," said the second fine, proper gentleman.
"Why not? Why can't a bear do anything he likes?" asked the bear.
The "fine, proper gentlemen" continued to argue that it was a silly painting and they couldn't tell what it is supposed to be. They bear continued painting.
The "fine, proper gentlemen" asked the bear if it was a painting of a butterfly or a clown - because it looked a little like one of those. The bear told them what he was painting - a honey tree, a forest stream, a hollow log, and a field of flowers.
The "fine, proper gentlemen" said it didn't look like those thing to them.
"It doesn't have to," said the bear. "It is MY picture."
The "fine, proper gentlemen" walked away saying that bears shouldn't paint pictures. And the bear "looked at his picture...and was happy."
D.B. Johnson's illustrations play beautifully with Daniel Pinkwater's text. Early in the story, the bear is shown in grayish brown tones, with a little blue in his eyes. The "fine, proper gentlemen" are in grayish brown tones too. As the story progresses, the bear adds more colors and images to his painting, and the scarf he is wearing becomes spotted with colorful paint. The gentlemen remain grayish brown. The bear's finished painting is full of colors - and, when turned upside down, looks like a picture of the bear.
A bear, some stuffy gentlemen, paint, and self-expression (never mind what critics say) make for a great book to share with children.