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Page history last edited by RichiesPicks 7 years, 2 months ago

8 June 2010 MOON BEAR by Brenda Z. Guiberson and Ed Young, ill., Henry Holt, May 2010, 40p., ISBN: 978-0-8050-8977-6


"All God's critters got a place in the choir

Some sing low, some sing higher

Some sing out loud on the telephone wire

And some just clap their hands, or paws

Or anything they got" -- Bill Staines


What you WON'T learn from reading MOON BEAR:


"In countries across Asia, thousands of bears live a life of torture on bear farms, so that their bile can be extracted and used in traditional medicine to cure ailments ranging from headaches to haemorrhoids.  Bears are confined in cages which vary from agonisingly tiny 'crush cages' to larger pens, all of which cause terrible physical and mental suffering."-- from the AnimalsAsia Foundation's moon bear rescue web page


Researching the story behind the picturebook MOON BEAR made me nauseous.  I viewed photos on the All-Creatures.org website (many of them from the AnimalsAsia Foundation site) that made my stomach clench, just imagining how it would be to be locked in a tiny cage and have a catheter permanently jammed into my gall bladder which was regularly tapped for exploitation of my body fluids as if I were a oozing maple tree.  I read the May 6, 2010 Publisher's Weekly article explaining how Laura Godwin at Henry Holt had initiated this book project.  The PW article has a link to the Macmillan web page that is part of a campaign to raise money to rescue one of these bears from his or her life of confinement and torture.


Young people will NOT be exposed to this horror show by reading MOON BEAR.  They will, instead, be treated to a poetic look at the life of an Asiatic black bear (also known as a moon bear) living in the wild. 


"Who scratches the birch tree and licks oozing sap?"Hungry moon bear, slurping sweetness after months without food."


I knew nothing about moon bears or bear farms when I picked this book up.  I was attracted to it because of the Ed Young cover: A moon bear gazes skyward in front of the rising moon, her paws and claws together, giving her a sense of contemplativeness and awe.  And it only gets better visually and lyrically as one wanders through this book.  


"Who plucks raspberries and plops red scat in the tangle?"Blissful moon bear, feasting on juicy summer fruit."


Ed Young, who will soon mark the fiftieth anniversary of his publishing debut, continues to achieve new heights with his art.  Last year, Young illustrated Kimiko Kajikawa's TSUNAMI! which was an easy choice for inclusion on my Best of 2009 list.  This book is equally memorable.   


Open MOON BEAR, and gaze upon the incredibly expressive eyes of this bear as you turn the pages and follow her through a year in her life.  That Ed Young can make a bear come alive to this degree through cutting and assembling pieces of paper is wizardry at work.


"Who digs into a tree hollow and adds a carpet of ferns?"Chubby moon bear, snuggling in for another long winter snooze."  


The story of Moon Bear is followed by a brief Author's Note that addresses the issue of bears in confinement (without getting into the nightmarish details) and is accompanied by a half dozen photographs of moon bears busily at play in the Animals Asia Moon Bear Rescue Center in China.


MOON BEAR is a book that, for young prereaders, will prove a delight at storytime.  For older readers, the back matter will very possibly inspire research and lead to subsequent contemplation of the issues involved in the all-too-frequently inhumane exploitation of all God's critters. 


Richie Partington, MLIS
Richie's Picks http://richiespicks.com
Moderator http://groups.yahoo.com/middle_school_lit/

FTC NOTICE: Richie receives free books from lots of publishers who hope he will Pick their books.  You can figure that any review was written after reading and dog-earring a free copy received.  Richie retains these review copies for his rereading pleasure and for use in his booktalks at schools and libraries.


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