Monday, July 22, 2013

PICTURE BOOK REVIEW: A Bear in War by Stephanie Innes & Harry Endrulat


Teddy belonged to ten-year-old Aileen Rogers, whose father Lawrence left Aileen, her little brother Howard, and his wife Janet home on the family farm in Quebec when he went to war. Janet and Lawrence exchanged more than 200 letters during his service. Aileen and Howard also wrote their dad — and Aileen sent her beloved Teddy overseas to help protect him. Sadly, Lawrence died at the battle of Passchendaele. In 2002, his granddaughter Roberta Innes found Teddy and the letters in an old family briefcase. Her findings uncovered how a Canadian family’s strength was tested by war and how a small stuffed bear became an enduring memento of their love. Sensitive text by Harry Endrulat and Roberta’s daughter Stephanie, and Brian Deines’ lovely illustrations bring this unusual story of love and war to life.


A Bear in War tells a tender story about the love of family and the heartache brought by war.  Aileen Rogers loves her teddy bear and he tells us about life with Aileen and her family in Canada during World War I.  When Aileen's father joins the Canadian army, life goes on for those at home, despite how much they miss him.  Finally, Aileen sends her beloved Teddy to her father to protect him and he is carried about in Aileen father's pocket until he is killed in battle. War is a sensitive subject especially when presented to children.  This book presents a look at a war that isn't as well known from the perspective of a toy (although the story is very much based on fact as the book documents) which allows the reader a glimpse of a family's love for each other and how war disrupts that.  The theme revolves around the love of family despite the challenges and heartache that war brings to families throughout the world. I found the book touching and a powerful reminder of why people go to war at all. With a lengthier text and beautiful illustrations I can easily recommend this book.  I do recommend keeping a kleenex handy.

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