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The Last Bear

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In this instant literary classic about friendship, forging your own path, and doing what’s right, debut author Hannah Gold inspires fans of Pax and A Wolf Called Wander to make a difference in any way they can.

There are no polar bears left on Bear Island. At least, that’s what April’s father tells her when his scientific research takes them to a faraway Arctic outpost.

But one night, April catches a glimpse of something distinctly bear shaped loping across the horizon. A polar bear who shouldn’t be there—who is hungry, lonely and a long way from home.

Fusing environmental awareness with a touching story of kindness, The Last Bear will include full-page black-and-white illustrations as well as a note from the author with facts about the real Bear Island and the plight of the polar bears.

288 pages, Hardcover

First published February 2, 2021

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About the author

Hannah Gold

3 books160 followers
Hannah Gold worked in the film and magazine industries before taking time out to pursue her dream of writing. She lives in Lincolnshire with her tortoise, her cat and her husband. This is her middle grade debut.

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5 stars
1,473 (49%)
4 stars
1,071 (36%)
3 stars
338 (11%)
2 stars
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12 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 619 reviews
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,373 reviews9,452 followers
April 14, 2021
I just read my favorite book of the year! (those that know me, this is nothing new) I ordered this flat out when I got the email and read what it was about. The book is numbered, signed, has beautiful sprayed edges and I got an art print with it which is framed and ready for the wall. I’ll show the pics first.

What a perfect book to buy for my bday and the main character is named, April 😊💕🌸

April’s father takes her with him to an Arctic Outpost for six months while he does work with weather stuff. April and her father aren’t as close after
Her father is always busy so April wanders the island (Bear Island) and picks up crap from people that made it all the way to the island. I don’t want to give out any spoilers. Hell with it, I’ll put it in a spoiler tag. So...

This book made me cry so hard and I’m looking at even more things to do to help with the animals and nature that matter more to me than anything. I’m going to have to get creative as I do a lot now and I want to do many more things that matter before I die....

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾🌸

PS-The book is full of beautiful illustrations
Profile Image for Gavin Hetherington.
665 reviews5,339 followers
February 4, 2021
I finished this one last night but wanted to wait a bit before writing my review, and this one stayed with me and I think that's a sign of just how important and amazing a read this is.

This book follows April who joins her father to Bear Island in the Atlantic circle. With it just being them two on the island for six months, April goes exploring and comes across a stranded polar bear. She strikes up a friendship with this polar bear as it also explores various themes such as grief, climate change and protecting our planet and animals.

I loved the messages within this book, and I think if young minds read this, it will really open their eyes to the world and inspire them to want to help the planet. I think in using this friendship between April and Bear, we can understand more the impact we are having on this planet. I truly think, in the right hands, this book will do so much for the next generation in making this world a better place.

People will really enjoy the polar setting of Bear Island as it is a really isolating and icy place, but it was nice to explore it with April - I felt cold just reading about all that ice and snow. Really nicely written and I would definitely recommend this to children, one-hundred-percent.
Profile Image for Jasmine from How Useful It Is.
1,218 reviews335 followers
December 27, 2020
This book was a great read! As I read for myself, I also read for my daughter as a bedtime story starting wherever I left off. I liked April's adventures on the island, exploring the beauty of the vast open land hardly ever explored by anyone except the polar bears and Arctic foxes. Nature sounds magnificent by itself and I decided to look up some videos of Svalbard on YouTube to see how it is. I'm surprised to learn that temperatures are collected in such extreme weather and that people can still withstand so much cold. Yes, there are warm layers of clothes but still, it's cold! I also visited the website from the author's note. The houses where the scientists stayed to collect weather shocked me even more because all of the snow around it were gone! Melted. I enjoyed the father daughter relationship, though it wasn't a smooth one, but I guess many fathers are made that way. The friendship between April and Bear was great. I liked how she learned to roar.

This book followed April, 11, told in the third person point of view, as she recounted about how she met Bear 3 weeks after she arrived on Bear Island. Her dad was a scientist and her mom died when she was younger. Due to an assignment about global warming, April's father was offered a job to do his research for 6 months in the Arctic Circle, specifically, Bear Island. Her dad's job was often busy and she's left on her own. Bear Island no longer has Bear because the ice caps have melted. On April's first day on Bear Island, she thought she saw a glimpse of a polar bear and so her mission was to hunt for him every day and to eventually understand why he's here.

The Last Bear was well written and a fast paced read. An adventure story filled with nature, animals, and friendship. I will definitely pass this book over to my 9 year old son to read and I do recommend it for you and your children. There seems to be a discrepancy, page 155 indicated that April and Bear explored every nooks and cranny of the island but starting chapter 18, they finally ventured into an area of the island they have never been to before. So technically, they haven't explored everywhere yet. The final version of the book may be different since this book I'm reading is actually an early copy. This story definitely got me crying. I like the message of doing something, no matter how little to make a change. A book with an important message on climate change and plastic washing up beaches. It's never too early for children to be educated by this knowledge. I highly recommend everyone to read this book!

xoxo, Jasmine at www.howusefulitis.wordpress.com for more details

I won this book from a Goodreads giveaway. Thank you for the opportunity to read and review. Please be assured that my opinions are honest.
Profile Image for Darla.
3,157 reviews448 followers
January 18, 2021
The bond between April and the bear on her island was such a sweet part of the story. She is able to help him with his hurt paw and their bond grows from there. As pictured on the cover, they spend hours and hours exploring the island with April riding on his back. Bear is stuck on the island and April is determined to help him get home to be with other bears on an island where the polar ice caps have not melted. What I found to be so odd was the fact that she is alone on the island with her father and her never seems to wonder if she will come back home. Her watch stops working and I'm sure she lost track of time frequently, yet her father is never ever worried. He doesn't even notice that large amounts of their food stores are disappearing. That is taking the absentminded professor trope too far. Their relationship arc was such a contrast to April's bond with Bear. I would have loved to see more conversations between Dad and April in the midst of all that summer wandering. Bonus takeaway: a new vocabulary word--friluftsliv = open air life.

Thank you to HarperCollins and Edelweiss+ for a DRC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Alice-Elizabeth (Prolific Reader Alice).
1,147 reviews153 followers
April 23, 2021
Listened to the audiobook via BookBeat UK!

I loved this story so much! April and her father end up on a research trip to Bear Island, which they've been told no longer has polar bears on but that isn't the case when April ends up going outside for a quick walk and stumbles onto one of them. Lots of discussions about climate change, the environment and doing the right thing even with obstacles all around you.
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
1,966 reviews1,387 followers
March 5, 2021
Bear Island is a remote Artic island and little April's new home, for the next few months. Her father has taken on a temporary role as the island's scientific researcher, measuring increased temperatures, rising sea levels, and disappearing polar ice caps. April understands the importance of her father's role and feels sick with anxiety at the thought of the destruction humans are wreaking upon the world, but that doesn't make her any less lonely right now. She longs for friendship and adventure, and the snowy setting surrounding her provides plenty of opportunity for the latter. Surprisingly, it also gives her the former as well, in the form of a very large, very white, and very furry acquaintance.

Characters like April's are exactly why I love reading Middle Grade stories so much. She was fierce and feisty, independent, and idealistic. Her attitude resulted in more than one spot of trouble she found herself in, but it also ensured she got herself out of it, as well.

Her father proved just as lovable, if less immediately likable. His growth across the novel was a lovely one to witness, and also ensured this different from the usual main character's arc witnessed in other similar stories I have read.

This remained such an important and emotional story, throughout. My heart broke along with April's at the plastic-strewn shorelines, diminishing species, and disappearing ice caps this featured. The polar bear that appeared upon one of April's adventures ensured this was not a wholly traumatic and sorrowful read, however. I can imagine it providing a whimsical yet educational reading experience for its target audience, as it appealed to this grown-up reader in a very similar way.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the author, Hannah Gold, the illustrator, Levi Pinfold, and the publisher, Harper Collins Children’s Books, for this opportunity.
Profile Image for Lauren James.
Author 16 books1,418 followers
December 12, 2020
A beautiful story of friendship between a polar bear and a lonely girl, staying in the Arctic with her scientist father. My heart went out to Bear and April, and the lost environments of the north. This is a hugely important and moving read, that shows just what toll climate change is taking on the natural world.
Profile Image for Filipa.
578 reviews1 follower
February 22, 2022
I was not expecting to fall head over heals for April and Bear <3

Imagine going into an island in the middle of nowhere - Bear Island, they call it. Only there are no bears. Not anymore! Or so April is told...

A though-provoking narrative about the love for nature and the consequences of global warming. With a very hopeful message that no matter who we are, or how old we are, we should all do our part to take care of the Earth and all the living beings that call it home.

April is fearless and adventurous. You will be wanting to run in the snow and reconnect with nature. Hannah Gold really created someone you can connect and empathize with. Someone you'll be sad to see go when you turn the last page. And then there's Bear! You will love Bear and everything Bear represents. Such a tender and spectacular story, with its heart and morals in the right place.

Couldn't recommend it enough!
Profile Image for Marta Marlau.
392 reviews10 followers
February 24, 2022
3,5/5 ⭐️ Ha sido una lectura muy ágil, tierna, con un mensaje muy importante para trasladar a todos los públicos, pero con más motivo al joven.
April me ha inspirado mucha ternura y su aventura con Oso sabe conquistar y hace sentir un hilo de esperanza entre tanto mal pronóstico para nuestro planeta.
Profile Image for Hannah Gold.
Author 3 books160 followers
Currently reading
September 30, 2020

April knew if she looked up, her life would never be the same again. That this moment itself was going to alter her in some way. Maybe even forever.

She slowly raised her eyes.

And there, standing on the other side of the beach, about fifty metres away, was the most magnificent creature she had ever seen.

He stood on his two hind legs, rearing up like a brilliant white stallion into the sky. With his chin jutted forward confidently, he didn’t look in pain. In fact, he stood in a way that indicated he knew just how magnificent he was.

The combination of powerful muscle and raw brute strength took April’s breath clean away and she clapped her hands over her mouth to stop herself gasping out loud.

‘You’re the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen,’ she whispered…
Profile Image for Alaina.
5,945 reviews215 followers
July 2, 2022
The Last Bear was such a fun and important book. After meeting April, I just had a feeling that I was going to really enjoy her adventure. Especially since she's at Bear Island with her father.

It's a little weird that she went on her own after being told that polar bears no longer resided there though. Then when she came across one on this walk of hers, I'll admit that I was a little scared. Never seen a polar bear in my entire life (unless you count movies) but one would think being scared of walking into a wild animal is a normal response. Right?

Other than that, I liked how this discussed about climate change and made the obstacles fall into that as well. It was definitely entertaining from start to finish. Secretly hoping April gets to continue working with polar bears in her future. If not, then I don't know what to secretly hope for.
Profile Image for Claire Booksnink.
226 reviews12 followers
March 10, 2021
I absolutely loved this book and the poignant message that came with it.
My final rating was 4.5 stars in the end.

I absolutely loved April the main protagonist that we follow and i am just so so glad that when she meets Bear and continues to meet him and build his trust that the relationship was kept real and didn’t go down a fantastical route which it could have.
I think it would have ruined it Bear suddenly started talking. Overcoming the barrier of being totally different species is a beautifully written process and seeing the trust and their relationship grow really is beautiful.

Hannah Gold wrote very well how the actions of others can have detrimental effects on those who least expect it. It is shocking how the world is changing and that what were beautiful landscapes are now floating islands of rubbish. It is shameful to be human at times especially when these consequences are pointed out in such a way.

The illustrations for this book are absolutely mind blowing and they are an absolute pleasure to feast your eyes upon. They are so life like and bring Hannah’s writing to life.
I highly recommend this book and the life lesson it has to teach.

The only reason that the book didn’t make the full five stars is because the ending wrapped up far too quickly and i think the book would definitely have benefited from having an additional 50 ish pages just so when what happens at the end does it is not just the end and totally cut off but you see some of what happened afterwards as just being cut off like that was a bit deflating after reading the rest of the book. I loved it though and definitely recommend
Profile Image for Jewel.
538 reviews299 followers
November 1, 2022
I didn’t want to give this book a low star rating because it was informative about climate change and it is something children need to be aware of.
Also because I really love Polar Bears.

But I didn’t like it.

I want to be fair, this is a children’s book and as an adult I naturally want more.

But I also didn’t like how the bear behaved more like a dog.
And how April behaved.
And how April’s father was so absent.
I don’t know why most of the children’s book have one parent and mostly absent.
Also my ten year old commented on this before so children do notice this trend in books and movies.

I guess as a parent when I read these books I always think of what ideas my kids will have and what will they think, and I’m not sure how positive this book will be.
My son will read it in school next term so I’ll find out then.
Profile Image for Mathew.
1,469 reviews169 followers
September 21, 2021
A gentle yet potent debut that champions conservation whilst touching upon loss and healing at the same time.

Since April's mother died, her father has grown ever-distant - throwing himself into his work. So when an opportunity arises for them both to work on the remote Bear Island within the Arctic Circle, April and Dad, both recognise great potential in the trip even if their goals are different. Whilst April hopes that the solitude might bring them closer together, her father sees this as an even greater opportunity to become lost in research. With no one to really talk to or be with, April tours the island only to find it has another resident - a lost, neglected polar bear.

For me, there were strong connections to Anthony Browne's Gorilla. A girl, ignored, largely by her father, finds love and solace in a male replacement in the form of an animal. The difference being here that the animal needs saving and taking to a new place. The bear as a foil for her own father would make for an interesting comparison too.

Hannah's writing is full of poetry and emotion. Whilst Bear is wild, April is caught between sensibility and the special gift she has with being attuned to nature; it is this that allows her to communicate with Bear throughout. This connection between reality and the magical wildness of the landscape and Bear was something I enjoyed and there were times when I wondered, like April's father, whether Bear was real or not. All of which is heightened by Levi Pinfold's outstanding illustrations throughout.

The Last Bear is juggling two big things; the loss of a loved one and the loss of our planet. Both are deeply connected anyway and readers might enjoy reflecting on both and making the connections that the author presents us with. There's plenty to unpick here should you want to but also, it's a gentle story with much to take in and ponder should you wish to.
Profile Image for Kayla - the.bookish.mama.
206 reviews14 followers
December 4, 2020
This story is a wonderful mix of the wonder of the natural world and a call to activism. April Wood is an 11 year old girl that has a deep relationship with nature. She feels drawn to the heart of the Earth, and can sense the secret things of wildlife. She will be spending the summer on an arctic island while her father works measuring the changing temperatures and collecting data. The island they will be going to is called Bear Island, only due to the decreasing size of ice caps, polar bears no longer inhabit the area. Or do they?

This was a delight to read. I enjoyed the themes that didn’t really seem probable and partially magical, because they helped to show compassion and kindness throughout the story. In addition to the much needed light shed on environmentalism and conservation, they was a lot of attention to loss and coping. This was done in a way that I felt could be easily understood by children. I loved that there was a call to do your part, no matter how small you are, or how small your action, you can make a difference. Small action leads to results faster than no action at all. Such an inspiring message for children!

The chapters were a desirable length, and kept a good pace, which I believe will help readers to stay engaged.

I also appreciated the authors note at the end where she noted additional resources.

Trigger warnings: parental loss

I was given an eARC in exchange for an honest review from the publisher, HarperCollins Children’s Books.
6 reviews
October 27, 2021
Wow, I can't say enough how amazing this book was...a story that touched me in unexpected ways. Most books on climate change dwell too much on facts or sound dystopian alarm bells, but this book wove the climate aspect into the story of a friendship between a girl and polar bear, which instead of being unrealistic, had that magical feel you have as a child, when you believe anything is possible. And I think that is one of April's best qualities in this story, because she believes in the wonder of animals and approaches reversing climate damage not with skepticism, but hope. Such a beautiful read and a gem of a book :') Highly recommend for anyone wanting to feel inspired to make a positive difference on the planet.
Profile Image for Jano.
606 reviews356 followers
September 10, 2022
Una historia sobre el amor a la naturaleza muy tierna y con una gran ambientación.

Trata el valor de la amistad, la valentía y el poder de la juventud para cambiar la situación del planeta.

Los personajes son geniales y conquistan al lector a cada página.

Una novela con un mensaje esperanzador. Una gran lectura para los más jóvenes.

Las ilustraciones de Levi Pinfold son una maravilla y le dan una magia especial a la historia.
Profile Image for Daniela Marcheva.
78 reviews34 followers
January 15, 2023
„Последната мечка“ от Хана Голд (изд. „Таралеж“, 2022) на пръв поглед е топла, уютна история за приятелството, което може да бъде намерено на най-невероятното място и под най-невероятната форма. Но лично за мен книгата има още по-голяма стойност както в поднесената тема за взаимоотношенията между баща и малката му дъщеря, след загубата на майката, и последващото им развитие, така и в елегантните препратки към вътрешния свят на героите, докато сюжетът следва своята линия.

Дъщерята, невписваща се сред съучениците си, и бащата, неуверен и невярващ в това, че ще получи мечтаната работа – всеки от тях със своите несигурности, двамата - сами срещу света, и още по-сами един с друг, тръгват към безлюден остров, намирайки начин на свой ред да отхвърлят отхвърлящия ги свят.

Това е мястото, където ще открият много както всеки за себе си, така и един за друг. Това е мястото, където всичко ще си дойде на мястото – придо��ивайки смисъл и принадлежност, каквито в света „отвъд“ е трудно да намерят:

„Но това, което наистина привлече погледа ѝ, беше картата на острова, закачена на стената. На картата на света Мечият остров бе само незабележима точица някъде между Норвегия и един архипелаг от острови близо до Северния полюс, наречен Свалбард. (Строго погледнато, Мечият остров също беше част от този архипелаг, но той беше толкова отдалечен, че сякаш бяха съвсем различни места.) Беше толкова малък, че ако човек не знаеше за съществуването му, нямаше дори да го види. Ейприл разбираше това състояние много добре. Повечето хора не я забелязваха.“

Отдалечаването от света, идването на Мечия остров и близостта до природата за Ейприл могат да се разглеждат и като близост до майката, която е изгубила. А в образа на мечката виждам именно това – ролята на липсващата майка, любовта, която първоначално не може да докосне и види, а след това – материализирането ѝ в приятел, споделящ същата съдба:

„Понякога ѝ се струваше, че мечката я наблюдава. Беше по-скоро шесто чувство, отколкото точно определено възприятие. Усещане, че не е сама. Но всеки път, когато вдигнеше рязко глава и се огледаше, не виждаше нищо освен слънчева светлина, планини и вълни, разбиващи се в брега.“

Пътешествието до Мечия остров, бидейки не само физическо, но и духовно преживяване за главните герои, преобръща представите им за мястото им на този свят, за стойността на думите и дейстивята им, вдъхва им сила да отстояват това, което е важно за тях, сближава ги, повече отвсякога, и тръгвайки си обратно към вкъщи, те са всичко друго, но не и същите.

15.01.2023 г., гр. София
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Brittany (whatbritreads).
523 reviews1,036 followers
June 27, 2022
*Thank you to Books are my Bag for sending me a copy of this book!*

If you’re looking for a really sweet middle grade to dive into, for yourself or for a younger person in your life, this book was really beautiful. From the actual story itself to the illustrations that accompanied it, I really enjoyed this one.

It felt like such a warm and cozy book, which sounds a bit crazy since it’s literally set in a freezing cold climate and the familial strain in here feels anything but warm. It’s full of such heart and tenderness regardless, and it was lovely to see how the characters moved forward and developed as the story went on. Though it wa a short story, it managed to pack quite a bit in if you dive under the surface of what its saying.

This book is also a great way to introduce the topic of saving the planet and global warming onto younger readers. It puts it all forward in quite an easy way and I can see it prompting a lot of discussion and really developing empathy and understanding of the issue. Though it was a sad one at times. It felt hopeful in the end.
Profile Image for kate.
1,080 reviews916 followers
December 26, 2021
a classic tale of adventure and friendship with a child friendly yet passionate and honest approach to discussing the tragic effects of climate change. this is the kind of book that has the power to spark empathy and gently open the eyes of the next (and hopefully current) generation to the impact of global warming and inspire them to ask questions and take action.
Profile Image for Myriam.
412 reviews288 followers
January 24, 2022
Un magnifique conte, récit initiatique sur la relation entre l'homme et l'animal, doublé d'une prise de conscience écologique à lire d'urgence, quel que soit son âge.
Coup de ♡
Profile Image for Greenwood world.
103 reviews76 followers
February 4, 2022
Hoy os traigo un libro muy especial. Una historia llena de amor para todos los públicos y NECESARIO en todas las escuelas.
“El último oso” de Hannah Gold , ilustrado por Levi Pinfold y publicado por @duomoinfantiljuvenil 💕✨
En esta historia, nuestra protagonista April viaja con su padre al Ártico. Este está totalmente sumido en su trabajo y decaído. April, con su personalidad valiente y luchadora, está emocionada por su nueva aventura pero en la isla de los osos, no podrá ver ningún oso polar ya que han desaparecido.
Un buen día al atardecer no puede creer lo que sus ojos ven, un gran oso polar ha aparecido trastornado por el deshielo.
Entre April y el oso crearán un vínculo increíble y ella hará todo lo posible por salvarlo.
Una historia llena de amor y esperanza, enseñándonos que cada granito que podamos aportar al planeta, cuenta, y que podemos ser mejores personas con muy poco.
Me ha conmovido mucho y el poder disfrutarla con unas ilustraciones TAN bonitas, ha sido muy emocionante.
Gracias a la editorial por poner tanto cariño y cuidado en traernos esta maravilla ✨💕
Profile Image for Elena Coorie.
382 reviews166 followers
June 16, 2022
En esta novela acompañamos a April, una niña de 11 años y a su padre en sus aventuras en el círculo polar ártico❄️. Concretamente en la Isla del Oso donde su padre tendrá que trabajar en la estación meteorológica recabando datos sobre la temperatura en la Isla y los diferentes cambios que suceden en ella. 🌏🗺

Sin embargo, lo que para April es una oportunidad para pasar tiempo con su padre, acaba siendo un viaje en el que tendrá que pasar más tiempo sola de lo esperado, y es en estos momentos en los que April se dedica a explorar la isla cuando conocerá a Oso, el último oso polar en la isla. 🐻‍❄️🤍

A partir de entonces April inicia sus acercamientos con Oso y con el tiempo pasan a ser de desconocidos a amigos🤍. La niña destinará todo el verano a alimentarle y cuidarle hasta enfrascarse en una misión de lo más arriesgada por el bienestar de su amigo. 🍯

En esta novela encontrarás:
🧊Ecologismo: concienciación con el cambio climático, el deshielo de los casquetes polares y los residuos plásticos.
🧊Familia: se trata la muerte de los seres queridos, la separación y la relación paternofilial en un entorno familiar no normativo.
🧊Género: quería introducir este punto porque la protagonista es una niña de 11 años, fuerte y valiente y que en ningún momento destaca por su feminidad. Este tema se trata con asertividad y sin los rasgos definitorios que impone la sociedad.
🧊Amistad: y sobre todo el cuidado a los animales, nuestra relación con ellos y el cuidado de su hábitat.

Una novela maravillosa, que me ha llegado al corazón y que recomiendo a gente de todas las edades 🐻‍❄️. Estoy deseando leer la siguiente novela de Hannah 🐋.

Gracias a @duomoinfantiljuvenil por el ejemplar 🤍

Por último me gustaría hacer una mención especial a las ilustraciones de @levi_pinfold que hay a lo largo de la novela y que son maravillosas y se integran a la perfección con la historia ✨🧊🐻‍❄️🤍.
Profile Image for Emma.
618 reviews134 followers
October 12, 2022
The representation of women and girls is poor. Starts of by pointing out the absence of a mother equals a dusty house, implying that mothers are cleaners, then the main character of April is portrayed as the classic, "not your average girl".
Such a shame because Gold's writing is beautiful and I enjoyed the descriptions of nature. April needed a bit more depth to her, more of a Lyra or a Hermione.

If you want a similar book with a stronger character, I recommend Dreaming the Bear bu Mimi Thebo (secondary age) or The Wolf Wilder by Katharine Rundell (Middle grade).

PS I didn't like the mention of "the locals" when referring to the Midnight Sun ceremony. Please specify if you mean Norwegians, don't take something sacred to a particular culture and not credit them.
Profile Image for Christine.
312 reviews2 followers
September 9, 2020
This lyrical debut novel swept me off of my feet. It's the kind of book that you finish with a big sigh, your heart near to bursting from the sheer magnitude of it.

April Wood does not fit in. Her scientist father doesn't seem to notice her all that much, she doesn't have any friends aside from a wild fox in her back yard, and she has only fragments of memories of life before her mother died.

When April's father gets the opportunity to spend six months in the Arctic on Bear Island, April jumps at the chance to go with him. No school with mean taunts, a wide open space to explore, and the potential for time with her father all culminate in some very high hopes.

Yet despite their being the only two people on Bear Island, April's father still doesn't have time for her. She sets out to explore the island, named after the polar bears that used to migrate there. With the melting ice caps, she knows there aren't any bears. But how does that explain the large shape on the horizon? April sets out to discover if there is a polar bear on Bear Island, and how she can help him get home. Along the way, she just might find her own voice and passion.

This middle grade novel is beautifully written, full of magical realism in a wondrous world. The Arctic is breathtakingly described, but not obtrusively. The unique landscape of Bear Island is a character unto itself, with the terrain proving both useful and troublesome at times.

The characters are exceptionally well developed, without any of the negative stereotypes that can pop up in middle grade books. April is a relatable 11 year old, smart without being a precocious prodigy. She has a way with animals and finds a way to use her loneliness to help a creature. Bear, the wild polar bear, is in fact a polar bear, but is also his own character. Though he doesn't speak, he and April form a relationship. This friendship is full of lessons delivered in a soft and gentle manner to further the story without slowing it down. The plot is well paced and tugs on your heart in just the right way. It's the kind of story that fills you up and encourages you to make a difference in your part of the world.

There are many positive messages in this book that leave your heart full. From understanding the complexity of relationships and the power of communication, to learning to use your voice no matter your age or size, to doing the right thing even when the world tells you you're wrong, to standing up for the environment when you fear no one listens to you- this novel is full of wonderful messages without ever sounding preachy.

The cover art and sporadic artwork throughout is gorgeous. It captures the moment just like it appears in your mind, without interfering with your mental image. It's a beautiful addition to the lush writing.

This is a story about friendship, love, and finding your voice. I absolutely adored it, from start to finish. Though older readers will enjoy it on their own, I believe the content and writing is accessible enough for my five and seven year old, and I look forward to reading it to them. This is one of those novels our family will always treasure.

I'd like to think HarperCollins Children's Books and NetGalley for the advanced copy that allowed me to write this review.
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439 reviews12 followers
March 18, 2021
I love this book for a number of different reasons:
1) It highlights how human carelessness can wreak havoc for animals and emphasizes the importance of caring for our planet.
2) It shows how the bond between an animal and a person can be just as strong if not stronger than the bond between two people.
3) It makes me cry, and any book that can trigger tears is worthy.

Find it today: https://ent.sharelibraries.info/clien...

Jayme A. / Milton Public Library #CheckOutMPL
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