Journey of the Pale Bear by Susan Fletcher Genre: Middle Grade / Medieval Historical Fiction (grades 3-7)
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Date of Publication: Oct 2, 2018
Paperback: Oct 1, 2019
Number of Pages: 302
A runaway boy befriends a polar bear that’s being transported from Norway to London in this lyrical and timeless adventure story about freedom, captivity, and finding a family.
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 getting the bear safely to London. So Arthur, who has run away from home, finds himself taking care of a polar bear on a ship to England.
Tasked with feeding and cleaning up after the bear, Arthur’s fears slowly lessen as he begins to feel a connection to this bear, who like him, has been cut off from her family. But the journey holds many dangers, and Arthur knows his own freedom—perhaps even his life—depends on keeping the bear from harm. When pirates attack and the ship founders, Arthur must make a choice—does he do everything he can to save himself, or does he help the bear to find freedom?
Based on the real story of a polar bear that lived in the Tower of London, this timeless adventure story is also a touching account of the bond between a boy and a bear.
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 if family does not love you like you should be loved. It was a fantastic development that he found someone who supported and cared for him making his own family during his travels.
The part I got most giddy about though happened EVERY chapter! I loved the structure of this story from the short chapters that built up my momentum and made this book hard to put down to the chapter titles. I absolutely love that moment when you find the title somewhere throughout the book, but with Journey of the Pale Bear you are able find that euphoric moment in every chapter! The chapter titles are adorable and fun, but the best part of this entire book was getting to get that sense of accomplishment in finding that title over and over again. It made it almost a game to read it was so fun. I'm not sure if I'm the only one that finds that fascinating but it would give me a little adrenaline rush and a smile when things fell into place so beautifully. I ended up sneaking off to bed earlier each night to be able to fit just a little bit more reading time in.
One last love of mine on this read was getting to the Author's Note and realizing this was based off a true story. Be still my heart. Memoirs, nonfiction, or even inspired by true stories are my kryptonite, but I would have never guessed with how much this read like a story. The author did an outstanding job connecting the missing dots of this piece of history and making it a fun, memorable read. Thank you Susan Fletcher for the new knowledge and the fun ride!
Although Susan loves to write about long-ago and faraway places, she can’t bring those worlds to life without grounding them in the details of this one. To that end, she has explored lava tubes and sea caves; spent the night in a lighthouse; traveled along the Silk Road in Iran; ridden in a glider, on a camel, and on a donkey; and cut up (already dead!) baby chicks and mice for a gyrfalcon’s dinner. To research Journey of the Pale Bear, she explored the grounds of the Tower of London and went backstage at the Oregon Zoo, where, standing breathtakingly near, she watched polar bears Tasul and Conrad lip grapes from their keepers’ open palms.
Journey of the Pale Bear is Susan’s 12th book, including the Dragon Chronicles series, Shadow Spinner, and Alphabet of Dreams. Collectively, her books have been translated into nine languages; accolades include a Golden Kite Honor Book, the American Library Association’s Notable Books and Best Books for Young Adults, BCCB Blue Ribbon Books, and School Library Journal’s Best Books.
Susan has an M.A. in English from the University of Michigan and taught for many years in the M.F.A. in Writing for Children and Young Adults program at Vermont College. She lives in Bryan, Texas with her husband, historian R.J.Q. Adams, and their dog, Neville.
GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! THREE SIGNED COPIES OF JOURNEY OF THE PALE BEAR October 10-20, 2019 (US Only)
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CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:
10/10/19 - Excerpt - Texas Book Lover
10/10/19 - Excerpt - Max Knight
10/11/19 - Review - Hall Ways Blog