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Review: The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-Roach

The Bear Ate Your Sandwich
By Julia Sarcone-Roach

Knopf (Random House)

ISBN: 9780375858604
Grades K-2
Out Now

*Best New Book*

Find it at:
Schuler Books | Your Library

It’s sounds counter-intuitive, but the best Big Reveals are the ones that aren’t necessary. Or maybe it makes more sense to think of it this way: if everything leading up to the moment of unexpected truth isn’t worth the reader’s while, then who cares? The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julie Sarcone-Roach (Subway Story) is an excellent picture book for 26 pages, with a final six that takes things to the next level and makes the reader reassess everything that came before.

By now I think you know what happened to your sandwich. But you may not know how it happened. So let me tell you.

It all started with a bear.

From there the off-screen narrator launches into the tale of how a black bear, through a series of questionable decisions and coincidence, made his way from forest to city to park to the very bench where the crime took place. The sandwich is gone. But when the identity of the narrator is revealed (hint: a non-human who also enjoys a good sandwich), will the reader still trust the story?

The acrylic paint and pencil illustrations are like walking into a vivid dream – soft and ethereal with a masterful sense of light. They often give just enough shape and detail for readers to understand what is happening, leaving the rest to be formed in the mind. It’s remarkably beautiful artwork, and it leaves my Caldecott Spidey sense buzzing.

An expertly illustrated, engaging book with a big reveal that ices the cake, The Bear Ate Your Sandwich should go down as one of the finest picture books of the year.

Review copy from the publisher.

Visit Julia Sarcone-Roach’s website.

About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


  1. I totally love this one.

  2. Cheri Christensen says

    Usually I weary of reading the same beloved books to my grandchildren – often they are so mundane and predictable. But not this book! I still smile and find something new in the lovely illustrations, and the kids still giggle at every reading. I particularly appreciate the bear’s expressions, and the twist at the end. This book doesn’t seem to be on the radar, but it should be. Seven grandchildren under the age of seven, and it’s always the first book they ask me to read.