NONFICTION

A Voice for the Spirit Bears: How One Boy Inspired Millions To Save a Rare Animal

Kids Can. (CitizenKid). May 2019. 32p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781771389792.
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Gr 1-4–Kids can make a difference. That’s how young Simon felt about endangered bears, particularly the “Spirit Bears” of the Great Bear Rain Forest. A subspecies of the North American black bear, some of these animals were born with creamy white fur, and held a place in Native American mythology for uncounted generations. When Simon discovered their age-old forest was in danger of clear-cutting, he found his voice. Despite a difficult stutter, and much bullying at school over his newfound enthusiasm, Simon began to write letters. And he began to talk—memorizing speeches to quell his stuttering—to groups, pleading for protection for the Spirit Bears’ environment. He founded SBYC (Spirit Bear Youth Coalition), which had six million members worldwide by 2013. He was befriended by Jane Goodall, doyenne of environmentalists and animal behaviorists. He stood up to the teasing and mockery and reinforced his efforts to see the creation of the Spirit Bear Conservancy. Oliver’s soft, simple text records these challenges and Simon’s successes, while Dockrill’s gentle, semi-realistic illustrations keep step. Team this with Dorothy Hinshaw Patent’s handsome Garden of the Spirit Bear: Life in the Great Northern Rainforest for a more complete understanding of Simon’s vision.
VERDICT An inspirational base for further environmental efforts by young people, and a plea for reducing the goals of bottom lines

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