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Friday, January 12, 2018

A Bear''s Life, by Ian McAllister and Nicholas Read. Orca Publishers, 2017. $19.95 ages 6 and up

"Indigenous people say that Raven, the creator of the rainforest, flew among all the black bears and turned every tenth one white. This was done as a reminder of the last ice age, which ended about twelve thousand years ago."

Raven also made a promise:

"After turning the bears white, Raven promised they would best fishers on the coast and that they would live in peace and harmony in a forever-green rainforest."

Promise kept - so far! We have talked about the Great Bear Rainforest in other posts ... all by this talented and impressive pair whose glorious nature photography and impeccable research have given us other books to admire and inspire. 

Following Wolf Island (Orca, 2017), this second picture book is perfect for younger readers. This time we follow bears of the rainforest as they move from late winter through to fall. Cubs must be prepared to learn a lot as soon as they emerge in the spring. The older bears know how to take care of themselves, and will now spend time teaching the cubs what they need to know.

The text is accessible for young children and offers up all the information needed for them to learn about the bears, their environment, the lessons they are taught, and their food and eating habits.

"All bear cubs have to pay close attention to their mothers when they're young, because if they don't, they won't know how to survive as adults. Mother bears start teaching their young the day they leave their dens. They teach them where, when, and how to find food."

We are provided with pertinent information about the spirit bear, an amazing sight in the only place such bears live. They live alongside black bears, and grizzlies. No one knows exactly how many bears live there, but protecting their environment ensures their numbers remain high. Fall brings a need for fattening themselves up to survive the winter. The description of their fishing styles is of special interest.

"Some plunge their heads into the water and grab the fish in their jaws. Others sit on the river's edge and scoop the fish up like ice cream. Some pin the salmon against the rocks with their long claws. Others jump on top of them and crush them between their elbows and stomach."

The photographs are stunning, taken from a variety of perspectives and providing a close look at the bears of the rainforest as they go about doing what they do naturally from the arrival of the young until they are ready to make their dens high in the mountains for a long winter's nap.

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