Bear Island


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.

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Bear Island

Matthew Cordell

(Andersen Press)

‘I’m going out on the boat’ Louise says. Once there used to be Mum, Dad, Louise…. and Charlie, her beloved dog. Yet now, there is no Charlie. Charlie ‘love the water… the breeze on his face… [and] to explore the island‘. Can Louise find Charlie through a boat trip to the island? Maybe through disturbing the quiet by shouting and thwacking a stick, something could be roused? Might it be butterflies and chipmunks, deer and … ‘CRACK! CHUFF!’ It seems that more than colour and life have been stirred upon Bear Island through Louise’s arrival.
Thereafter, will the bear be angry at Louise’s disruption to the island’s stillness? Or might Louise demonstrate her anger at Charlie’s death? It seems as though the stillness that has existed within Louise since Charlie died, paused her feeling. Therefore she sees.. ‘this bear.’ Then she feels ‘ a familiar feeling. A familiar sadness’. Could this familiarity kickstart something through returning to the island? Might time, exploring, routine and then passing days sustain and then help Louise?
Like Love from Alfie McPoonst The Best Dog Ever, Bear Island focuses upon the devastation of losing a pet. Furthermore, like that wonderful picture book, this offers a story of passing time and a parallel existence, for Louise, upon the island.
Bookwagon loves Matthew Cordell’s award-winning Wolf in the Snow. It seems that like that superb picture book, this title is unique in its use of colour and composition, mature, compassionate and a treasure to read and share. Bookwagon is delighted to welcome Louise aboard…


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