I know there are a ton of people who will love this book. Don’t Eat That by Drew Sheneman has great potential. There is a lot her to love: A sassy girl. A not to swift bear. The high jinks of a human teaching a bear how to be a bear…. However, for this reader, there was something missing. The girl is an interesting narrator, but never came across as likable to me. She is just too bossy and talks down to the bear to be relateable. Yet the bear saves the story by being a bear who a) has, yes, lived in a zoo and knows nothing about being a wild bear and b) is a bear and yes, would like to eat the girl.
The last page/illustration is very realistic in the sense that a counselor would react that way to a bear coming to hang out around the campfire. The start and end pages create the set up to the story and punchline. This allows the story to start before the text and end after the text. The end sets itself up for a sequel or at least companion stories.
Sheneman has a sassy tone and this comes off even in their illustrations. There are a lot of details that you should pay attention to and if you do not read the illustrations, you will miss part of the story. As the bear never speaks, you need to see expressions to know how it is communicating.
Overall, this is not a “horrible book” it is just not one that I can be “WOW best book so far.” It is a book that I would give to a slightly older child who might not have the most traditional sense of humor and I could see this as a fun “Story Time” read at your local library or school.