Reporting for duty didn’t do Democrat Presidential candidate John Kerry much good but teddy bear Darcy Brewster has better luck when he volunteers for a dangerous mission – to become the One True Bear of a troubled little boy, Damian, who has already seen off a number of tough and heroic bears. But is it luck? Darcy maintains that he will succeed because he has the ‘right stuffing’ and it certainly sees him through when Damian tries to disembowel him. Darcy tells him: ‘I need my stuffing to love you with all my heart. Without it, how will I love when you are all sad inside?’ After several more attempts to destroy Darcy, Damian gets the idea that he might, after all, be loveable – although this development is implicit.
Meanwhile bear headquarters are monitoring Darcy’s progress and when he succeeds there is general rejoicing, even the hint of a tear on the cheek of Darcy’s Captain, resplendent in his blue uniform and bicorne hat. And, having had the experience of being loved by Darcy, grown up Damian is of course well equipped to rescue a child in turn.
The cultural reference points in this richly imagined picture book are American – from Darcy reporting for duty to Damian’s poor white neighbourhood with its abandoned cars to the adult Damian rescuing a little girl from a flood in what must be New Orleans. Dewan’s illustrative style has settled down and it has a satisfying cohesiveness of approach (too often missing in his earlier work) that expands upon and reflects back his delightful, multi-layered story.
The endpapers with their drawings by children – some featuring scenes of disaster and danger – are intriguing. Why they have been included is not explained.