Plot: “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See” is a gripping story that walks you through one person’s descent into madness seen through a group of paranoid animals in the forest.
Like all good suspense novels, this book starts out quaint and peacefully. This particular edition involves “slide and find” windows that really bring you into the action.
The is a first person “point of view” (POV) book where you never see the protagonist, but instead see what he is seeing and hear his words echoing over the haunting illustrations.
It starts when we come across a bear, who doesn’t notice us, so intent on looking at something.
We ask the bear (why not?) “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, what do you see?”, shockingly, the bear answers with “I see a red bird looking at me”. Cut to the bird, we now see HE is looking at something too, and so begins our adventure of detective work, what are all these animals of the forest looking at? Why are they all being watched? What nefarious work is at play?
So the red bird is being watched by a yellow duck, and the yellow duck is being watched by… well here’s where it starts to get weird. The yellow duck is being watched by a BLUE horse. This is foreshadowing that not all is right in the forest. While almost all the other animals in the book are the color you’d expect, blue horses don’t exist in our dimension.
When questioned though, the blue horse simply states he is being watched by a green frog, a normal, natural animal. This is a common ploy to relax our readers after a moment of suspense. But just when you think all is well, the green frog sees a PURPLE cat looking at him. It’s now abundantly clear that we are going crazy or are completely high.
Think about it for a moment, the first animal was looking at something, but when asked, described a different animal looking at them. That means they are looking at each other in a sort of a staring contest. Yet the second animal when asked what he is looking at describes a similar stare-off with a third animal. This MC Escher-like paradox means all of the animals in the book are looking at each other, and yet none of them are looking at each other.
But let’s continue the journey, as it really gets dark now.
After the purple cat, we see a white dog. Look at this terrifying imagery.
White dogs are of course a common creepy horror troupe. Where else have we seen white dogs?
Well there is the creepy white dog from the Cell:
There’s the terror dog from “White dog”
Ghost from Game of Thrones
Yes, in fact I’d say this is definitely a dire wolf. What creature would dare to look upon a dire wolf?
The black sheep, with the most judgmental sheep look I’ve ever seen.
Is this symbolic for how we view ourselves in this world? Have we spent our time getting high and talking to animals instead of going to law school like our parents wanted us to?
But the ending of the book is truly the most frightening. After going from animal to animal, you finally end up with a teacher. This cruel teacher unveils the final revelation to our story.
You are not in the woods at all. You are in front of a class of elementary school children, and they are all looking at you. Looking at the fool you’ve become, they are staring into your soul.
And the book just ends like that.
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