Waiting for his parents after Secrets of Bearhaven (2016), Spencer deals with an imperiled member of his bear family.
Reports from Professor Weaver (bear) and Uncle Mark (white human) that Spencer’s parents will arrive safely at Bearhaven any day are all lies, which (olive-skinned) Spencer learns when he overhears them discuss the deception, which is to keep him from losing hope. Angry, Spencer plays hooky from bear school to go try to help his parents by himself—but he hardly gets out of their part of the forest before encountering Kirby, a lonely surveillance enthusiast determined to uncover the forest’s strangeness. But when his bear best friend, Kate, who has followed him from Bearhaven, attempts to protect him from Kirby, Spencer cruelly shoos Kate away so Kirby won’t spot her BEAR-COM. When Spencer returns to Bearhaven to apologize, he learns Kate never made it back—and the bears blame him. Mining Kirby for intel, Bearhaven learns Kate’s fate, and it’s very bad news bears. She’s been abducted by Moon Farm, a toy factory covering for a black-market bear operation that sells to private collectors, circuses, or, worse, for parts, making for a high-stakes mission. Once there, they discover even worse things, progressing the overarching series plot. With characterization separated from the plot, occasionally plot needs result in bearly believable reasoning.
While more stuffed bear than gruff bear, a fast adventure story. (Fantasy. 8-11)