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Journey of the Pale Bear

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  195 ratings  ·  67 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 4.25  · 
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 ·  195 ratings  ·  67 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
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
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
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.
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?
Lone Star Literary Life
Featured on Lone Star Book Blog Tours. Lone Star Blogger Team average rating: 5.
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 surprise
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 o
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 em
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 no
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
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
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
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
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
Anita McDivitt Barrios
Jul 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My son loved this! And I was excited to read it too, because Susan Fletcher is one of my favorite dragon-genre authors. She wrote the Dragon Kyn series in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

This story is based on a true gift from one king to another in the 13th century. A female "ice" bear is given to the King of England for his royal menagerie, but she's restless and won't settle or eat before leaving Norway.

Arthur, who's run away from home and taken to stealing just to eat,
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
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.



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
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
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
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
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
Nov 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
.This book took me a little longer to finish, but I'm glad I did. It is based a true event in history which was the King of Norway bestowing the gift of a polar bear to King Henry III of England. The harsh times of the 1200's and the realism that the author wrote with, set a dreary tone with me at first. The main character, Arthur drew me in as I wanted to see him overcome his hardships.
Runaway boy, caged wild polar bear, sailing across the North Sea, pirates, and a friendship with a boy a
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
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
Debra Branigan
Nov 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s-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
Jan 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kids
Great little piece of historical fiction. Took me a bit to get into the book since I think I was expecting a fantasy, but it was worth it. I ended up getting very attached to both Arthur and the bear. Please let it be understood that I do not APPROVE of the way the animals were treated or kept. But it's history, and I think it's okay to let history speak for itself.

Content Advisory: runaways, bullying, animal abuse/captivity
Sep 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

I really loved this middle grade book! It surprised me with how charming and captivating it was. And even better when I got to the end and found out it was based on a true story!

I'm smitten with the pale bear and his keeper Arthur. Anyone who understands that you can have a deep relationship with an animal will love this special book. It's wonderful!
Martha Meyer
Dec 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a fictional story that takes as its starting point the real polar bear that was given to King Henry III of England by King Haakon IV of Norway in 1252.  Who might the bear's Norwegian keeper have been? Why did he stay in England to care for the now royal bear?

By turns sweet and terrifying, this story of pirates, long sea voyages, and the hope for freedom, is about a bond between an ice bear and the boy who is rescued by her.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information. Please do, however, be aware that this thread is no longer kept up to date.

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.