Home > Uncategorized > The Last Bear by Hannah Gold, illus. Levi Penfold. Pub. HarperCollins, 2021.

The Last Bear by Hannah Gold, illus. Levi Penfold. Pub. HarperCollins, 2021.

March 23, 2021

This excellent novel is one of the main reasons I keep on reading and reviewing children’s books. Michael Morpurgo called it “unforgettable” and he is not wrong. This is probably the best novel that explains to children the reasons why global warming has to be countered by positive steps from humans. We are not the only ones on this planet.

Eleven year old April and her academic father have lost a mother and a wife. They are grieving and the father decides to take up a job monitoring temperature and the effects global warming is having on the Arctic region. They are to spend the Arctic summer in two huts on the isolated Bear Island inside the arctic circle and a boat ride from Svalbard, a journey that once could be made across the ice sheet.

Bear Island was named because it was populated by polar bears who could walk across the ice to Bear Island and then back again. No longer can that happen, the ice has gone and no bears allegedly reside on Bear Island, but April finds one.

After being assured by her father that no bears are on the island on the first day April is sure she sees one in the distance as the midnight sun sets over the island. Next day she is out looking in spite of warnings that polar bears are aggressive and not to be tampered with. April finds him and he stands up and roars and she roars back.

April calls him Bear and realises he is in poor condition, in fact almost skin and bone. The next day she brings him food consisting of oat cookies and peanut butter. Bear loves it and over the next three months of summer April feeds him up to mint condition and their relationship develops. April is determined to find out why he is the only bear left and she talks to Bear who seems to understand in his bear like ways.

Pretty soon the food runs short but bears need ice sheets to help them hunt. Bear keeps looking north and April understands that is where his home is. How is she going to help him back? read the novel and find out you will not be disappointed.

Crunch time comes when father tells April they are leaving the island.

A totally believable relationship develops between Bear and April who is a feisty girl and describes herself as “I might be short but at least I am not a crybaby” neither is Bear but both are grieving and need each other.

Superb illustrations by Levi Pinfold give character to the Arctic environment, April and Bear.

A wonderful story if you miss this you will kick yourself. The best of the year.

Categories: Uncategorized
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