The True Story of Smokey Bear (1969)
What I Think is Happening on the Cover
Food is scarce in the forest and the half man half bear mutant must resort to eating his full blooded feral brethren to survive. When one tender morsel climbs a tree, the humanoid decides to cut it down to get to the creature. His brain is also half bear though, so he isn't super bright, and he keeps whacking a shovel against the tree in hopes it will knock it down. (Spoiler alert: it doesn't).
What is Actually Happening in the Book
A kind and wise eagle starts talking to the audience (or itself) and recants the origin story of good 'ol Smokey Bear. Once there was a bear chilling doing bear stuff in the woods. A human, who was also in the woods, left a campfire lit, didn't put out a cigarette, or flicked a lit match into some brush (damn senile eagle)... doesn't matter, the point is a fire started. A ton of animals got burnt to a crisp, and the firefighters took a long time to get to the blaze because they had to cut down trees to get there. When they did, they had to lie down and wait for the flames to pass because it circled them and was super intense. When the fire was gone the firefighters stood up and noticed that there was a baby bear still alive! So they took him out of the crispy woods, fixed him up, started calling him Smokey, and turned him into an anti-forest fire symbol. After that the bear really
sold out took his title seriously, showing up on the radio (even though he couldn't talk) and on TV with a ranger hat, until eventually retiring to the Washington Zoo. He somehow escaped, threw on a pair of pants, and spent the rest of his life raising awareness and putting out forest fires. Heartwarming.
What the Book Looks Like
It looks fine! Nature shots, baby bears, and thick lines! The fires are vibrant and engulf the panels they are in and the animals look terrified. The humans have ok facial expressions, nondescript in groups but never lacking a smile when interacting with Smokey. It kind of looks like an old G.I. Joe comic... starring a bear.
What We Learned
Bears hate forest fires! So do deer and mountain lions (this book says so). No animal hates them as much as Smokey Bear though. If you like public service announcements, safety mascots, and origin stories than pick this up! If forest fires are more your thing than don't pick this up, because the fires lose.