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The Bear 

By Claire Cameron (DOUBLEDAY)

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Claire Cameron’s most powerful gift to readers is the reflective yet juvenile voice of the narrator, five-year-old Anna. Anna leads the reader and her two-year-old brother, Stick, away from the remote campsite and the confusion and horror of the large black beast, her missing father and her dying mother whose last request is that she protect her brother and flee the island. Unprotected from the elements, Anna reluctantly becomes the caregiver, her love for her brother allowing her strength. We are privy to her fears, confusion and personal struggle as this young girl, comforted by a stuffed bear, weaves her family memories into the callous landscape of Algonquin Park. This fictional story, inspired by an actual bear attack, allows the cruel character of the bear to remind us of the futility in attempting to placate the ferocity of the wild. Cameron has created a savage and sentimental story that feeds us a main course of Canadian survival, with a side of Grimms’ Fairy Tales. With satiating final moments, I’m certain we’ll be back for what the author offers up next.

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