Tuesday 4 July 2023
Link to Publisher
Published by: HarperCollins, September 28th 2023
Returning to a bestselling favourite is surely nervewracking for both author and reader. Will it be as good as the first? Will we like the new characters we're introduced to? What if it doesn't meet expectations?
Well, there's no need to worry about Finding Bear! This sequel to The Last Bear, written by Hannah Gold and winner of the Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2022 and Best Story in The Blue Peter Book Awards, is a triumph. Within a few minutes of reading, I was swept away on an epic Arctic adventure full of adventure, determination, heart and hope...
Over a year has passed since April left Bear in Svalbard and her life just isn't the same. So when April hears that a polar bear has been shot and injured in the place where they said goodbye, she knows she has to return. Desperate to make sure her beloved Bear is okay, she sets out on a dangerous journey across the icy tundra. But it's not only Bear that April finds...and soon the clock is ticking on an urgent rescue mission. Can April survive in one of the wildest places on Earth?
This story is action-packed and full of adrenaline. It is pacier than the first, with more characters and even higher stakes. And yet, Hannah Gold manages to retain all the gorgeousness of the first by filling it with hope and love and the same powerful magic that she created in her first novel, through the bond between April and Bear. Yes, it's a magical realism novel, where a girl sets off on a daring adventure with a polar bear, and yet Gold fills it with a truth and passion that will hopefully open the hearts and minds of young readers, fill them with wonder and magic and make them care about, not only the creatures we share our world with, but the planet itself.
April is a fantastic character: bold, strong and determined to make a difference. Although some of her choices are reckless, almost disastrously so, we can certainly relate to her motivations. The story is also enhanced by the slightly humorous helplessness of April's father, the easy cheerfulness of Tor and the cuteness of one polar bear in particular. I also really liked the way April's father's new girlfriend, Maria, was portrayed. There's a wealth of educational material between the pages that can be used to promote discussion, again making it a brilliant novel for the classroom and the illustrations by Levi Pinfold have a raw, magical beauty all of their own. This is what sequels are definitely about!
A big thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins for allowing us a review copy. Finding Bear is now available to pre-order and is released in September.
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