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Journey of the Pale Bear

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  301 ratings  ·  86 reviews
The polar bear is a royal bear, a gift from the King of Norway to the King of England. The first time Arthur encounters the bear, he is shoved in her cage as payback for stealing food. Restless and deadly, the bear terrifies him. Yet, strangely, she doesn’t harm him—though she has attacked anyone else who comes near. That makes Arthur valuable to the doctor in charge of ge ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published October 2nd 2018 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
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Average rating 4.27  · 
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 ·  301 ratings  ·  86 reviews


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Kristine Hall
Oh, what a beautiful escape it is to read JOURNEY OF THE PALE BEAR. From the first few pages, readers are transported to a far-away place and time where they will stay enthralled, entrenched, and utterly enchanted. I am amazed that author Susan Fletcher took a fleck of a fact, a mere morsel from history, and then wove an entire and entirely feasible tale around it. Her research (shared in “A Note from the Author”) and her drive to find answers is impressive.

Susan Fletcher is a gifted storyteller
...more
Ms. Yingling
Jul 24, 2018 rated it liked it
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

Arthur has run away from his home in Norway during the reign of Henry the VIII. His Welsh father was killed in a war, and his mother has remarried a man who is abusive. After attempting to steal someone's dinner in a pub, Arthur runs across a captive polar bear, and isn't attacked by the animal. The bear is a gift from King Hakkon to the British ruler, and is being shipped over. The captain of the ship is not happy, and when the doctor who is accompanying the bear sees t
...more
Becky
Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
First sentence: In the evening, as darkness falls, I return to the fortress.

Premise/plot: This middle grade historical novel is the story of a boy and a bear. The novel is set in the thirteenth century--the setting is first Norway, then the sea, and finally England. The King of Norway is giving a polar bear--a 'pale bear'--to the King of England (Henry III) as a gift. But the bear needs a handler or keeper to get him there safely. Arthur, our young, desperate hero, seems an unlikely choice. But
...more
Tracey
Nov 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
I enjoy historical fiction and am amazed at how authors can take the few known facts about a historical person or event or thing and create such a heart-breaking and heartwarming read.
Lucy
Aug 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. It is sort of based off of a true story. One king did give a pale bear to another king (the same kings mentioned in the book I just can’t remember their names at the moment). They actually don’t know whether the bear was a polar bear or a white grizzly, but in the book she is a polar bear, for the author did research and thought that a polar bear is more likely to be found in Norway than a white grizzly. They also did not know what gender the bear actually was or who actually ...more
Joan
Nov 30, 2019 rated it liked it
This certainly was different. I’m a bit skeptical as to some of the kindness the author imagines given to the Bear by a boy who had known very little kindness himself. I do like how she makes clear in an author’s note at the end what was historical fact in this story for kids. However, the author, who has done some excellent work, had found out all she could about the Bear being part of the royal collection and the most unlikely part was true: that the polar bear was allowed daily swims in the T ...more
Paula
Sep 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dcf-2019-20
An I crazy to make connections to the story Life of Pi?
Bat713
Apr 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
I wish I had read the author’s notes before reading this tale. It is based on a true bear that was brought to King Henry III of England from the King of Norway. The author has told a fictional story that is highly adventurous. It is definitely aimed at middle school and probably the lower end. But adults can’t help but be caught up in the tale of a young boy and a Polar bear fighting the Middle Age system. Young readers would probably give it five stars.
Lone Star Literary Life
Featured on Lone Star Book Blog Tours. Lone Star Blogger Team average rating: 5. ...more
Belle Whittington
Do you ever get that indescribable hankering deep down in your soul for a different kind of read? You can’t put your finger on it, but it’s that inner gnawing that just won’t shut up and go away.
I’ve been having that dadgum nagging hankering for a while now. Now, I’ve got a TON of books in my house. Every single room is loaded with them (it’s taking forever to complete the conversion of my spare bedroom into a library). Even my little ole Kindle is so full of unread books that I’m surprised it h
...more
Mike
Oct 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Despite Journey of the Pale Bear being targeted for grades 3 through 7, I found this story highly entertaining and enjoyable. I am WAY beyond those grades - or any grades, for that matter - but let’s face it: a good story is a good story!

Susan Fletcher put a very original twist to the “boy and his dog” trope. In place of the dog, she used a bear - a polar bear, to be exact. Given today’s lack-of-common-senseness, I’m wondering if she should have included a warning: Do not try this at home or in
...more
H. Ringer
Oct 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I have a bundle of emotions after reading Journey of the Pale Bear. It stands to reason that we know what end comes for Arthur and the bear. The very first chapter takes place in the future after all.

But how it ends beyond this short moment is more.

Arthur has run away from home and his loving mother to chase a dream. Feeling like a burden and unwanted, a letter from his home country gives him hope for more. However, in the harsh world and after desperate actions, he is employed to accompany a be
...more
Tangled in Text
Oct 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, addy
Journey of the Pale Bear was an adventure for all ages. The story never dulled and remained strong throughout while teaching about love, trials, integrity, and history. I don't have a single bad word to say about it and can't wait to share it with my niece.

I have a few favorite aspects to this story and one of them is the love that was represented. It showcased a toxic household where this young boy ran away from, and although it was just a background element, it showed that it is not your fault
...more
Christena
Oct 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“But my stepfather had told me never to run from a bear, because you will look like prey. And an ice bear can outrun you every time.”

I’m sure my boss thought I was crazy earlier last week when I went to check on Harry. Harry has a sheet covering his body to protect him. I lifted the sheet and reached out and touched his head with the back of my hand. His fur is still thick and coarse, yet appears white as pure snow. Harry’s head is massive. How many people can say they have touched a polar bear
...more
Ariel Hess
Oct 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of this book from Lone Star Literary Life partner in exchange for my honest review.  The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or the publisher. The copies used in those are finalized copies sent to me in exchange for my honest review.  #partner #LSBBT

This is an engaging novel that involves family, friendships, and heroics. This book will grab your attention from the moment you read the first page and ho
...more
Kate Waggoner
Nov 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-read
"In the evening, as darkness falls, I return to the fortress."

This is the captivating first sentence of Fletcher's Journey of the Pale Bear. This sentence immediately captured my attention and drew me deeper into the novel. This is a beautifully written historical fiction novel about the pale bear given to King Henry III of England by King Haakon IV of Norway. The story details the bear and her unlikely keeper and companion's trip from Norway to London. The book has adventure, moments that will
...more
Susan
Sep 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 Thank you to Blue Slip Media and the author for the free review copy. All opinions are my own.

From the first moment you begin reading this story, you will be transported back to the thirteenth century. You will experience the cruelty shown toward a young boy and a huge pale bear. You will feel the love and understanding between the much feared polar bear and the boy, but also the boy’s fear of all that is happening to him. You will learn about the Tower of London and the king’s menager
...more
Cindy Hudson
Oct 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Seeking escape from his stern stepfather and stepbrothers, Arthur is desperate to find a ship that will take him from Norway to Wales, where he hopes to live with his father’s family. But no ship needs a scrawny, unexperienced cabin boy. When he comes face-to-face with a caged polar bear, and she seems to calm in his presence, he gets the offer he’s seeking: passage to England in exchange for taking care of the bear. As he gets to know the bear, the two become connected in unexpected ways, and A ...more
Bethany
Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
JOURNEY OF THE PALE BEAR is an inspiring and heartwarming story about a bear and a boy who develop a wonderful friendship. Arthur is running away from home because of his abusive stepfather when he runs into trouble. He tries to steal some food, but winds up getting shoved into a bear's cage. When the bear doesn't try to attack him, the doctor gives him a job to help handle the bear aboard the ship.

This bear is no ordinary bear. She's a royal one and a gift from the King of Norway to the King of
...more
Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
Journey of the Pale Bear by Susan Fletcher, 280 pages. Margaret K McElderry Books (Simon & Schuster), 2018. $16.99.

Language: G (0 swears, 0 'f'); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG.

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

It's 1252 and the king of Norway is sending a great ice bear as a gift to the king of England. 12-year-old Arthur has run away from home, and when faced with the caged bear (a couple of sailors stuff him into its cage when he steals some meat from them) he makes
...more
Angie
Sep 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Arthur is a young runaway escaping an abusive stepfather. He steals a bit of supper and is on the run from a couple of thugs when he discovers the captive bear. Of course he is afraid of the bear, but he also feels a connection with it. The bear is a gift from King Haakon IV of Norway to King Henry III of England. Because of his affinity to the bear, Arthur joins the expedition. Of course the thugs from earlier are part of the crew and continue to torment Arthur. He takes solace in caring for th ...more
Liliana Lorraine
Feb 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
If you are into historical fiction, give this book a try! This story takes place in 1200s Norway. We follow our main character Arthur, who's family is very harsh to him, all except his mother. His father died due to a fever that spread across the area, leaving him in his mother's care. She remarried to a man who didn't take him seriously just because he's short for his age. Neither did his sons, AKA Arthur's two stepbrothers. He ran away from home a little bit before this story starts.
We also
...more
Laurel Decher
Mar 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wow! Just wow! This book was so gripping--when I got to the last page and the story ended, I kept reading the author's bio and the acknowledgements because I didn't want the book to end.

(Fun fact: the acknowledgements in this book are really interesting because they tell about the true story of the pale bear and 1252 London. This is truly historical fiction that makes you feel like you are right there. Amazing!)

The changing relationship between Arthur (or "Dung Boy" as the bully of the story ca
...more
Shana
Sep 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book but my 12 year old son wasn’t a fan, so that’s interesting to me. We have read thousands of books together and he rarely doesn’t enjoy one. I can’t quite figure out why because animals and adventure is a great combination. I thought the writing in this story was easy and enjoyable to read. I also liked this rare (based on a true) story of a polar bear sent from one king to another. I thought the friendship between Arthur and the doctor was precious; as well as Arthur a ...more
Paula
Jul 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
We meet our runaway, Arthur, stealing food from sailors because he is starving and he is punished by being thrown into the cage of polar bear. Though she's attacked everyone whose come near, she strangely welcomes Arthur. This makes Arthur useful to the doctor charged with transporting this "gift" from the King of Norway to the King of England. Aboard ship, Arthur begins to see that he and the bear share a loneliness and kinship that comes from being disconnected to home and family. When the shi ...more
Elizabeth Seals
Sep 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Arthur has a gift that many people do not possess; he can calm down a polar bear. In fact, that polar bear is a gift from the King of Norway to the King of England. Arthur runs away from home finding himself in care of the royal bear. We also see Arthur grow to understand the meaning of responsibility through his journey of taking care of the bear. We follow his adventure across the North Sea with runs in with pirates and being stranded on an island with a polar bear that may attack him. Through ...more
Debbie Tanner
This book is set in 1252 in Norway-Arthur is a runaway trying to find a meal but he steals from a sailor and when the sailor chases him into a holding dock, Arthur comes face to face with a polar bear. The polar bear doesn't try to eat him up so the doctor, who is on tap to take care of the bear, invites Arthur to go on the sea voyage to London to deliver the bear to King Henry. Invite is maybe a strong word, since Arthur is accused of thievery, if he says, at best he'll go to jail, at worst, he ...more
Eileen Winfrey
Interesting, yet wholly unsatisfying. We know the end of the story on the first two pages: the bear lives in captivity for her life, Arthur stays with her as though bound. The ensuing rest of the story about how they came to be there is interesting in detail,but I ended the book with a feeling of depression, like so many adult books. I’ll have a hard time recommending this one. Because it is a Sequoyah nominee, I’ll use the idea of the King’s menagerie as a possible follow up, but I’m not eager ...more
Karen
Aug 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-2020-msba
Arthur runs away from his home in Norway with his mother and cruel stepfather and stepbrothers and ends up on a ship bound for London with a pale, i.e., polar bear -- a gift from the King of Norway to the King of England. He has an affinity for animals and is able to keep the bear calm during the voyage and they even survive a shipwreck. This book, nominated for the 2019-2020 Maine Student Book Award, is historically accurate in that the King of Norway did indeed gift a polar bear to the King of ...more
Debra
Nov 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
What an adventure I just had! From the moment, I opened the book, I was transported to the 13th century traveling with Arthur and his charge. The King of Norway has gifted the King of England a "pale" bear and Arthur has been chosen to sail as her keeper, since his presence seems to calm her. The story is based on a few real historical clues, but the author brings the story to life with her eloquent descriptions, gripping details, and wonderful characters. This is a fantastic read for young hist ...more
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Susan Fletcher is the author of a popular trilogy that includes the books Dragon's Milk, Flight of the Dragon Kyn, and Sign of the Dove, as well as of several other novels for young readers.

With a me
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  Tami Charles is a former teacher and the author of picture books, middle grade and young adult novels, and nonfiction. As a teacher, she made...
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