A fictionalized account of a wildlife rescue program in Michigan that places orphaned cubs with mother bears.
This real-life program is presented fictionally, through the point of view of a presumably adopted child. A boy named Braden narrates as he and his sister, Finley, accompany their father in his work as a wildlife biologist with this program. First they collar a mother bear so they can track and find her if and when they find an orphaned cub. Braden and Finley hold her cubs while their father and other adults collar her. When an orphaned cub is located later, they accompany their father again to track the sow and trick her into accepting the baby as her own. While this process is fascinating, the fact that the children are illustrated to appear Asian (Finley) and black (Braden) while their dad appears white could raise uneasy feelings among adoptees who read this family as a transracial adoptive family. Are readers to understand this text as creating a parallel between human adoption and the cub adoption program? If so, duping the mother bear into taking in the cub makes for a troubling association with human adoption, and the fact that most human adoptees are not orphaned by their biological parents undermines the parallel. Backmatter includes information on black bears’ life cycle, hibernation, a Q-and-A with a bear biologist, and further facts about bears. A Spanish-language edition publishes simultaneously in paperback.
A well-meaning but ultimately flawed offering. (bibliography) (Picture book. 4-6)