BooksforTopics Reading for Pleasure Recommendations
Book Title: The Last Bear (available here)
Author: Hannah Gold
Illustrator: Levi Pinfold
Publication Date: March 2021
Most Suitable for: Years 4-6
Review by: Alison Leach
A beautifully heartfelt and moving story with strong environmental themes. This story highlights the topic of global warming but also draws a picture of the wonderful connection that can develop between children and animals.
When April heads to a remote Arctic island with her father, who is there for scientific research, she's not sure exactly what to expect. The trip to 'Bear Island' has the potential to be a very lonely trip - with endless summer Arctic nights, an isolated wilderness and, according to her father, no actual polar bears left on the island for April to spot despite its name.
Surprisingly, April encounters a real polar bear on the island when nobody else is around. Isolated from his family, the bear is starving and alone, with nobody to help him. Over time, a friendship develops and April becomes more determined than ever to save the bear. April knows that she will have to tread carefully in order to nourish the bear in secret and to navigate the issue of making the adults listen at the right moment. Before long, April realises that she is witnessing first-hand the impact of a much bigger global problem. With courage in the face of powerlessness, April embarks upon a quest to get the bear to safety in an adventure that she will never forget.
There's something magical about this story - from the wonderfully evoked Arctic setting to the glorious friendship that develops between April and the bear. There often seems to be a direct connection and a deep instinct to care that exists between children and the natural world, a connection which is highlighted in the story through the way in which April is able to make a difference to the plight of the bear despite her feeling of powerlessness. Many young readers who really do care about climate change will relate to April's frustration at the inaction of many people, to her sadness at the plight of our precious planet and to her desire to make a difference, even through the smallest of actions.
This is a powerful and important story that will stir the heart through its gently unfolding message that places hope in the hands of the young to make a difference in the planet's future.
Many thanks to the publishers for sending us a review copy. Follow along with the other stops on the blog tour for more about the book.
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