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The Last Bear

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Tor discounts April’s hopes that she might discover The Last Bear living upon Bear Island. Despite its name, all polar bears left long ago, erased by hunters or the loss of habitat.

April and her researcher father are the sole inhabitants upon Bear Island. While her father is immersed in his research and Mozart saturated sadness, April explores the island. Like her late mother, she has a unique sensitivity to animals so that it seems she can speak with them. Before long, not only has she discovered The Last Bear, but bonded with him over peanut butter and efforts to heal his plastics’- injured paw. Thereafter, she learns his history, breathes and feels with him, and determines to return him to Svalbard.

April’s solitariness, her sensitivity and the setting are emotionally impactful. It means that we feel her pain at her father’s absence, Bear’s plight and that of his species, and then the rushing devastation of this wilderness. Therefore, we are aboard Bear, struggling to the mountaintop and heaving and pulling the boat to Svalbard.

What a rich, meaningful and heartfelt novel! Bookwagon recommends The Last Bear to our readers.

Description

The Last Bear

Hannah Gold, illustrated by Levi Pinfold

(HarperCollins)– hardback

Granny Apples is appalled at Dad’s decision that he and April will live on Bear Island while he researches. It’s true that it’s miles from anywhere, that they’ll be alone and in the raw bite of the Arctic. April has become resourceful since her mother’s death. Meanwhile Dad has lost his happy space. The mystery of Bear Island delights April. Is there any chance she might sight The Last Bear?
April’s sensitivity with animals impresses Tor, the Captain’s son. Yet all that April has is the same attachment with her heart that her mother showed. Therefore when she does discover The Last Bear on Bear Island, she works hard not only to heal his wounds, but thereafter to bond with him and discover his story.
Readers soar to the North with April and Bear. It feels as though we are part of April’s discoveries, whether  a mountain top or about her solitary polar friend. Furthermore we feel an intrinsic yearning at the Arctic’s decimation. It means that we feel compelled to take up April’s pledge to return to the North, to halt the loss of the ice caps and thereafter create a more certain habitat for that area’s creatures.
Hannah Gold, like April, writes from the heart. It seems as though she urges us to feel and think and see. Thereafter, Levi Pinfold, illustrator of The Dam, amongst other acclaimed works, offers a similar sensitivity and insight as the writer.

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