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Soldier Bear

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  312 ratings  ·  134 reviews
Winner of the 2012 Batchelder Award Based on a real series of events that happened during World War II, Soldier Bear tells the story of an orphaned bear cub adopted by a group of Polish soldiers in Iran. The soldiers raise the bear and eventually enlist him as a soldier to ensure that he stays with the company. He travels with them from Iran to Italy, and then on to Scotla ...more
Hardcover, 145 pages
Published August 22nd 2011 by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers (first published 2008)
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Red Dot 2014: Older Readers: LONG LIST
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Community Reviews

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Many writers have made it clear just how hellish war is, and how hard it is to hold onto the shreds of humanity that exist in the hearts of soldiers during conflict. Based on actual events that occurred during WWII, this story describes how a group of Polish soldiers stationed in Iran adopt a Syrian brown bear cub who becomes the mascot and symbol of the transport company of the 2nd Polish Corps. As the cub grows to become more than six feet tall, he and the other animals that accompany the troo ...more
What an amazing true story! And you just couldn’t ask for a better read-aloud book to share with your 3rd or 4th grader who is ready for that transition to stories with a little difficult material. Mostly, this book is pure fun. But one chapter (ch. 14) addresses--very tactfully and responsibly--the realities of war. Another (ch. 19) deals with the sad fate of one of the book’s four animal characters. My daughter went from sheer delight, to convincing herself not to cry, and then to declaring th ...more
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
I really enjoyed this unusual novel, though it hardly seemed like a children's book, as the characters were all Polish soldiers and animals. Translated from the Dutch, this story based on true events is about a group of Polish soldiers captured by the Russians in World War II and sent to join the British in Iran. While in the desert one day, the group encounters a young boy with a baby bear in a sack, which they obtain by trading food for the bear. They keep it as a pet and mascot, and the bear ...more
Margo Tanenbaum
n this charming novel for children, Dutch author Bibi Dumon Tak fictionalizes the true story of an orphaned Syrian brown bear cub who's adopted by a group of Polish soldiers during World War II, eventually becoming the unit's beloved mascot. The mischievous bear cub was named Voytek (smiling warrior) by the soldiers. As the soldiers journeyed through Iran and Iraq on their way to their assignment in Palestine to join their Brtish allies, even the officers softened at the adorable teddy bear of a ...more
Based on real events is this imagined account of a bear that accompanied five Polish soldiers who traveled from their beloved Poland to the British Isles then to the middle east, where they found a bear cub in the middle of a desert, finally to Italy, then to Scotland, and home. The adventures also involve two dogs and a monkey-a total menagerie that traveled with these men. In the earlier parts of the story, they had to gain permission to keep the animals, but soon, they endeared themselves to ...more
Mariah Smith
Voytek is the kind of pet any child would love to imagine. He is so much more delightful because this is based on a true story --he really was a member of an allied military division and he truly made the war more "bearable," even enjoyable for the soldiers who befriended him and all others who encountered him. This book evokes a lot more laughter than tears. It also includes interesting historical context, including maps of WWII regions and a simple, "kid-speak" version of Poland's unique predi ...more
Kimberly Wees
Audience: 4th to 8th grade students study WWII history.

Appeal: This is a great and easy read for students interested in WWII. The story is about a bear who gets bought and is used for work. There is talk about the history of WWII but not in too much detail that it's overbearing. It focuses more on the importance of having a friend and companion in times of trouble and strife. It talks about getting through things together and that having somebody with you is all you need in life.

Batchelder Awa
Tayler Bingham
This book details the story of a group of Polish soldiers fighting during World War II who find a bear and take him during one of their travels. Quickly, they become attached to the bear and decide to raise him and take him everywhere. Along the way, the bear gets into a lot of trouble, just as a kid, yet becomes very useful in the army by being a symbol of their camp, as well as giving pride to the soldiers. The bear would be honored the rest of his life for the part he played in the battles of ...more
Alex Austin
Tak, Bibi Dumon, and Philip Hopman. Soldier Bear. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans for Young Readers, 2011. Print.Genre: Historical Fiction. Age: 8-12. This book is about a bear in the Polish army during WW2. It talks about the different places that the bear goes and what he does for the army. It has a little mention about the war going on but mostly focuses on the antics that the bear gets involved in. I think that this book does a good job at discussing the elements of war without going too much in ...more
Name two things that were Voytec’s favorite things to consume? Peter always tells the other soldiers that Voytec would prefer to have cigarettes and beer.

What examples can you find to support the fact that Kaska changed when she gave birth? Before she gave birth to her baby, she always pulled on Voytec's ears and threw stuff at his head and Voytec would hide from her. After she gave birth, she was nice to Voytec. She would run up and show Voytec her new baby, she didn't throw things at Voytec an
Soldier Bear by Bibi Dumon Tak (2012 Batchelder Award Winner)
This is the delightful true story of soldiers with the 2nd Polish Corps, who while working with the British troops during WW II, bought a bear cub from a hungry child. Voytek was a Syrian brown bear who served with the Polish Army (under the British) for over 5 years. Voytek was given the rank of Private by one of the Commanding Officers who was also charmed by the mischievous bear. The story continues to tell how Voytek was raised fro
Kate Schwarz
I was so curious about this book--about how a bear became part of the 2nd Polish Corps during WWII--I had to read it. I'm glad I did, as this little story of one small group of men and their animals survived the horrors of war helps color in my understanding and current (and past) reading about WWII. Plus I'm Polish and an Army brat, so I am fond of military stories. I have to say that I found this story pretty unbelievable, though the author swears it is true!

The Polish soldiers were stationed
Reana Smiley
Soldier Bear by Bibi Tak. Tak, Bibi, and Philip Hopman. Soldier Bear. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans for Young Readers, 2011. Print. Chapter book. Ages 10 and up. Chapter book. Soldier Bear is the story of a bear cub that helps Polish soldiers during World War II. This story is based on real events. This story is an interesting read. I think it is very beneficial to children because it is based on real events. This book gives children the opportunity to understand more about World War II in an in ...more
Soldier Bear does what the Voytek does for the soldiers - lightens, appropriately, a hard time in our history. The voice of the story is slightly younger than the story itself perhaps, but I thoroughly enjoyed the book and will recommend it for purchase for our library. It also provides a non-American, tho pro-American, look at WWII balancing the harshness of war with the lightness of a bear's unusual role in wartime.
Thank goodness for the Batchelder Award, without which I probably would have never heard of this book, much less picked it up. This is a fabulous story, and based on the true story of the bear who was enlisted in the Polish army. I thought it showed how hard war can be but how something to care for and love (the adorable and rambunctious bear) helped these soldiers make it from day to day. It is a beautiful story.
Karly Winters
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. My only regret is that I wish I had read it at a slower pace so that I could have enjoyed it more, but due to time constraints, it just wasn't so. Anyway, this is the story based on true events during World War II about a group of soldiers take in a bear and what goes on throughout the war with the soldiers and their bear. There were a lot of moments that I found myself being able to sympathize with what was going on and able to laugh and cry with this book. I was ...more
Nell Adams
The first thing I want to mention is that I was intrigued by this book just because of the title. I have no explanation for that, it's just that "Soldier Bear" made me wonder what it was about. Being about a bear that was basically adopted by Polish Soldiers who were fighting in Iran. This bear became one of the soldiers. He was always with the soldiers, there to fight with them and protect them. He was funny even though he was an animal, he lightened different situations up. As for the book its ...more
Tak, Bibi Dumon, and Philip Hopman. Soldier Bear. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans for Young Readers, 2011. Print. Based on a real series of events that happened during World War II, Soldier Bear tells the story of an orphaned bear cub adopted by a group of Polish soldiers in Iran. The soldiers raise the bear and eventually enlist him as a soldier to ensure that he stays with the company. He travels with them from Iran to Italy, and then on to Scotland. Voytek's mischief gets him into trouble along th ...more
Bloom's Taxonomy
1) Remember- Are you able to name at least three main characters, as well as one villain within the book, Soldier Bear?
2) Understand- Can you give an example of why Peter was dubbed Voytek's "new mother"?
3)Apply- Relate the situation where the soldiers first find the bear cub and wanted to take care of it to a similar situation you have experienced in your life.
4) Analyze- Identify at least three different ways that the bear saved or contributed to the 2nd polish corps?
5) Evaluat
Marilyn Johnson
This novel develops a realistic story line as well as intertwining history for young readers. An orphaned Syrain Brown cub is adopted by polish soldiers during World War II and serves for as their mascot for nearly five years. This based on a true story but through a bear the reader is given encouragement even in all the turmoil. He was faced with much trouble but as the bear gave the soldiers encouragement the trouble doesn’t seem as difficult. As for me young readers reading this would be diff ...more
This book is about a group of Polish soldiers who stumble upon a little bear as they’re transporting things for the WWII war effort in the Middle East. This bear, they soon name Voytek, becomes the mascot of their polish corps. The soldiers travel the world with Voytek and some other animal friends, fighting the Germans and working to free their homeland of Poland. I thought this book was very good. I loved the historical aspect of it. It made it seem so much more real, even though I wasn’t even ...more
Edward Sullivan
This Dutch import tells a great story based on real events from World War II. Readers will be charmed by the playful antics of Private Voytek.
Andrew Stockle
Soldier Bear is a non-fiction novel which takes the reader through the event of WWII. The story mainly focuses on a cuddle brown bear named “Voytek” and his owner (Peter). This story describes a lot of the trouble that Voytek caused this group of soldiers, but also how he lifted their spirits and blessed their lives. Voytek won over everyone that crossed his path. The reader, too, cannot help but fall in love with this funny bear. I loved this book! One of my favorites thus far. While reading it ...more
Heather Russon
Soldier Bear is a historical story, it is good for children ages 8 and up. It tells the story of some soldiers and a baby bear they find and raise. How this bear became an image for their home and who they love. It is a well written story. It has simple pictures that bring the reader more into the story. It shows what war can do and also how it can bring people together. It is one story I would have my children read it and would recommend it to others. It teaches me about love and hope. It teach ...more
Amber Fisher
Based off a true story during World War II, Voytek, an orphaned bear cub that was adopted by a group of Polish soldiers, travels along with the army to help provide protection, a sense of hope for the soldiers, and was useful in carrying heavy equipment and finding spies. Voytek being a bear, often got himself in trouble like using up all the shower water on himself because he got to hot in some of the locations the soldiers where stationed at. I would use this book in my classroom to help talk ...more
I found Soldier Bear to be a quick, engaging read based on the true story of a bear soldier in a Polish contingent during World War II. I think that children would enjoy this read because of the animals in it, not just Voytek, the "soldier bear," but also the various animals that the Polish transport company had with them, including two dogs (one of whom thought he was a horse) and a sassy monkey. Soldier Bear would be an interesting introduction/early World War II book for younger readers, it f ...more
Who knew? A bear was actually a Private in the Polish Army during WWII. Then there also a monkey and a few dogs as well. Hard to imagine this "circus" atmosphere in the midst of a war but it happened. Though a work of fiction, Soldier Bear, is based on a true story and the focus is more on the men and animals and less on the war itself. The animals were a welcome respite from war though often caused problems themselves. Animals coupled with some history - what a great combination. This is overal ...more
Ridgewood Public Library Youth Services
In the context of stories about animals that I love -- tales that, if not based on actual events, treat our fellow creatures on their own terms. I look for stories that give us spiritual and ethical content, like Black Beauty or Born Free, or even Hoot. This work certainly fits the bill, but I don't know which young reader I would recommend this to, because our relationship with eastern black bears is best kept at a distance. The European brown bear featured here "Voytek" has an entirely differe ...more
Erin Reilly-Sanders
Somehow, this story makes me very uncomfortable. I think it has to do with with the presence of animals in the story. It just makes it so easy to anthropomorphize which really shouldn't happen in a realistic story. The audience is definitely younger children than most historical fiction or World War II novels. Consequently, it makes sense to avoid some of the realistic problems of having a bear in a war camp- I'm sure that there were occasionally war injuries and bears eat quite a lot, further d ...more
Soldier Bear is a story based on a historical event. A unit of the Polish army takes in a bear cub, they name Voytek, who becomes completely integrated in their unit. The emblem of the transport company is changed to a picture of a bear holding artillery shell. Voytek provides friendship and comfort for the soldiers facing the difficulties of war. Much needed comic relief is provided by Voytek as he gets into all sorts of "trouble" throughout the book.
This book does a good job telling about a re
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