Bear Island by Matthew Cordell

Published by Feiwel and Friends

Bear Island: Cordell, Matthew: 9781250317162: Amazon.com: Books
We're Going on a Bear Island Hunt: Matthew Cordell Talks Grief and Hope and  Bears - A Fuse #8 Production

Summary:  In the pages before the title page, Louise packs a ball into a box with other doggy items, and she and her parents hold the box, with the caption, “Goodbye, Charlie.”  The main story begins as a grief-stricken Louise rows a boat to a small island near her house.  As she starts to enjoy the animals she sees there, colors return to the sepia-toned illustrations.  Then a bear appears.  Louis is afraid at first, but her fear turns to anger and she roars back at the bear.  The bear seems as sad as Louise, and on subsequent visits to the island, the two become friends.  As winter approaches, the bear settles down to sleep.  “It’s not fair,” thinks Louise “when the things we love must end.”  But sometimes an end is a beginning, and before spring, Louise has a new puppy named Milly.  The two of them return to the island, but she doesn’t find the bear, and Louise wonders…was he ever there?  48 pages; ages 4-8.

Pros:  I’ve been avoiding this book since I read it was about the grief of losing a dog, but I’m glad I finally overcame my resistance.  Caldecott winner Cordell does a masterful job of exploring grief and the healing powers of nature and time in ways that kids will relate to.

Cons:  The ending may be a bit ambiguous for the younger set.

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