THE SNOW BEAR by Liliana Stafford


by & illustrated by
Age Range: 7 - 9
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Narrative gaps and credibility issues hamper this tale of companionship between a young Canadian and a polar bear. When a mother bear whose cubs have been killed by hunters is spotted foraging in the town dump, Bruun’s father explains that she’ll be locked in “bear jail” until she’s hungry enough to make tracks back to the wild. Bruun not only slips food through the bars of her cage, but when she’s released, he follows her out onto the ice, where she teaches him how to live as a bear. Feeding on seals together, they stay out until spring, whereupon the protective bear leads Bruun back to town. Years later, they are reunited, and this time it’s Bruun who cares for the old bear, until she dies. Stafford models her unnamed locale on a Manitoba town that really does have a “bear jail,” but Davis (Baby Whales Drink Milk, 1994, etc.) is more concerned with capturing Arctic light falling on snowy landscapes and tidy, cleanly drawn figures than with filling in details left out of the spare narrative. Neither explains how the bear is captured, how Bruun, without visible supplies or even a knife, is supposed to eat the whole seal the polar bear brings him, or why after weeks of roughing it, his mittens and parka are still pristine. If the appended explanatory note, which is longer than the story itself, doesn’t leave readers cold, the lack of visual verisimilitude certainly will. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-439-26977-6
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Scholastic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2001


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