Charlie loved going to the island, ‘the water…. the breeze on his face…’ Yet Charlie, Louise’s beloved dog, has died. Therefore, she rows to the island alone. She finds it as feels- deserted. grey and still. Yet what might happen if she were to shout and thwack a stick? Could it be she stirs up butterflies? Might deer and chipmunk run to her? Thereafter might a bear charge, roaring? Yet what if Louise were to roar back…. then recognise something in the bear that she feels in herself? A deep, agonising, loneliness?
Could there be a summer of exploring, building, dreaming and mending with the bear on Bear Island, follow? Might colour return to Louise’s life through this association and maybe follow into her play and chores with her parents? Thereafter, what might happen with enough time? Could it be that by winter when ‘the days were getting shorter’ that Bear might disappear? Could it be that it is time for Bear to sleep? It seems the way that the ‘things we love must end’ is so unfair. Yet what of new beginnings?
Bear Island is an outstanding picture book. Its language is considered and laden with meaning, while Matthew Cordell’s pictures are symbolic in their colouring, focus and perspective. Bookwagon recommends this title to readers of all ages. It is destined to be loved and treasured.