By Author / Illustrator
Oxford University Press
Paperback / softback
\"When I get up, there's nobody home. Even Mum has gone out. The note says, 'I have to check my emails. I'll snowmobile to the meltline and be back soon. XX Mummy'.And I think, 'Good. I can feed my bear...'\"Darcy's life was never exactly simple, but it was about to become a lot more complicated. Recovering from a distressing illness in her parents' cabin surrounded by looming pine trees, Darcy spends most of her days alone, warming herself by the log fire. That is, until she ventures into the woods hours before a heavy snowstorm, and finds herself face-to-face with a grizzly bear. Their encounter takes a surprising turn when it flourishes into a warm and caring companionship.Set against the beautiful backdrop of the snowy Yellowstone National Park in Montana, Mimi Thebo's poetic tale inspires compassion and friendship, sensitively focusing on how the seemingly impossible can become the achievable.
Darcy has been taken from the shopping streets of London to live with her naturalist father in the wilderness that is Yellowstone Park. Surrounded by snow and with no mobile phone signal she feels totally isolated. And to make thing worse she has some mystery illness that means she is tired and unable to move most of the time. Nothing redeems the place apart from a boy in her brother's class and since she hardly ever goes to school, that doesn't mean much. Under doctor's orders, she tries to take some exercise but she goes too far and gets wet as she tries to climb up to a cave; in freezing conditions, that is not a good thing. She saves herself by sleeping in the arms of a hibernating bear. She forms a connection with the bear and tries to save it but just as she comes to love the wilderness and her surroundings, she has to come to terms with the reality of living in the wild with wild animals. This is a beautiful and sometimes dream-like book. The narrative switches between Darcy and the sleeping bear, which somehow gives it a depth of feeling that could easily be missed. We understand how Darcy becomes so enamoured with the bear and local culture that invests so much meaning into the spirits of the animals. Although the end is sad, it is also uplifting as Darcy comes to terms with her surroundings, the expectations of her family and her mystery illness. A good read for animal romantics and serious naturalists alike. 192 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Caroline Downie, librarian.
Suggested Reading Age 9+