A child mourning the loss of her mom “bears” witness to the consequences of strewing the natural landscape with garbage.
In this graphic-novel adaptation of a 2018 entry in Tarshis’ long-running I Survived series—in which invented storylines are layered over historical incidents—it’s 1967, and Mel (Vega in the original, though her last name is never mentioned here) has reluctantly agreed to continue a family tradition in the wake of her mother’s death by visiting her grandpa in Montana’s Glacier National Park. She is terrified when a bear attacks the cabin door one night. Later, she and Cassie, a writer friend of her mom’s, meet up with a researcher whose own father had been bloodily killed in an earlier attack and discover that a local resort has been dumping garbage nearby to draw bears for a nightly show that people, including even park rangers, avidly gather to watch. That evening, in a narrow escape that is also put to use as an opening teaser, Mel herself is savagely wounded. Two deaths that occurred in real life that summer, plus the shooting of the bears involved (talk about blaming the victims!), happen offstage, but the live and dead bears in Pekmezci’s neatly drawn wilderness scenes look feral enough to have readers attending closely to the safety guidelines in the backmatter—and understanding the dangers of letting wild animals become dependent on our detritus. Like others in the series, this one follows a predictable trajectory, but readers should find it absorbing. Mel is brown-skinned, Cassie appears to be Black, and the researcher is light-skinned.Formulaic but rousingly gruesome in some spots and thought-provoking in others. (afterword, photos, timeline, resource lists) (Graphic novel. 9-11)
Pub Date: May 3, 2022
Page Count: 160
Review Posted Online: April 13, 2022
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022
Categories: GENERAL GRAPHIC NOVELS & COMICS
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