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Book Review of 'The Last Bear' by Hannah Gold

I am a homemaker, mother and a wife. I have a passion for books. I always like to know about different books and love to read them.

About the Author and the Book

Hannah Gold is an award-winning author who worked in the film and magazine industries before pursuing her career as a writer.

‘The Last Bear’ is her debut novel which got published in the year 2021 by the publisher HarperCollins. The age range for the book is 8-12 years. The novel was an instant hit after its release. It became an international bestseller and won Blue Peter Award for best story. It also won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize for Young Readers and Overall Children’s Book of the Year.

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Storyline

A story of an eleven-year-old girl April Wood, who lives with her scientist father. April’s mother died when she was only four. Her father remains busy with his work most of the time. Her loneliness makes her spend most of the time in her back garden, where a family of foxes lives. By feeding them, she develops a love for animals. One day, her dad told her that he has got a job on a small island in the Arctic Circle. The island is called Bear Island but there are no Polar bears on the island. She also comes to know from her dad that there are also no human beings there. It might be that only she and her dad are there on the whole island. She gets very excited that she will get to spend a lot of time with her dad.

But then things don’t happen the way she thought. After reaching the island, her father gets very busy with the task he is assigned to. She decides to explore the island on her own. One day while exploring the island, she sees a Polar Bear. The bear has an injured paw as some plastic is tightly wrapped around it. He also looks vulnerable as if he has not eaten for so many days. April, though scared, develops sympathy for him. She starts feeding him by bringing some of her food. A friendship develops between her and the bear as she also removes the plastic from his paw resulting in his paw getting better. The bear shows her the island by making her sit on his back. She realises that the bear is sad, as the melting ice caps mean he can’t get much food and also can’t go to the other island named Svalbard where other bears are. She decides to take the bear to Svalbard but the journey is through the sea and is very dangerous for her as her dad will never approve of that. But she is determined and wants to help the bear.

Evaluation

The story is of friendship, not between humans but between a human(April Wood) and an animal(Polar Bear). It is written beautifully and makes the reader emotional and heartbroken at times. The story is adventurous and thought-provoking and connects the reader to nature.

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The author has tried to convey the message of how climate change and the overuse of plastics is ruining the life of animals. It opens up our eyes to the shocking reality of how our natural landscapes are changing and affecting the wild. The story also inspires the readers to think and take some responsibility to save our planet from this climate change by everybody playing their part.

The character of April is of a very smart and fearless girl whereas that of her father is not very likable till the very near end. He is not shown as a very caring father and leaves her daughter on her own most of the time.

As the book contains many positive and inspiring messages, I would definitely recommend the book for children aged 8+. However, parents make sure that the children must understand that it is a fiction book and real-life Polar Bears are dangerous animals and may not behave as portrayed in the book.

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