________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 7 . . . . November 26, 2004


Cubs All Alone. (Wild Paws).

Susan Hughes. Illustrated by Heather Graham.
Markham, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2004.
79 pp., pbk., $5.99.
ISBN 0-439-96128-9.

Subject Headings:
Bear cubs-Juvenile fiction.
Animal welfare - Juvenile fiction.

Grades 2-5 / Ages 7-10.

Review by Luella Sumner.

*** /4


"We did it!" cried Sarah. "We have them both."

Abbie breathed heavily. She had worked hard to rescue the cubs.

"You girls were terrific with the net," she said. "But our job isn't finished yet. We have to get our equipment and these bear cubs to the car, and head back to Wild Paws. I don't think these guys have had anything to eat for several days - not since their mother was killed. We need to get some nourishment into them as soon as possible."

Max and Sarah knew she was right. They quickly packed their gear into Abbie's backpack. Max and Sarah each took one end of a carrier, heavy with the cubs inside. Max carried the grab pole and Sarah wore the backpack. Abbie hoisted up the other carrier.

Max took another quick look around before they all headed out. Where was Matthew? Why had he come back into the woods to spy on them? His father had shot the mother bear. Was Matthew trying to harm the cubs?


Maxine Kearney loves animals. Volunteering at Wild Paws and Claws Clinic and Rehabilitation Centre with her best friend Sarah and helping to care for wild animals in need are like a dream come true. Max and her friends at Wild Paws are concerned when they hear that a bear has been shot just outside of town. But when they hear that the bear might have had two cubs who could starve without their mother, they know they have to get involved. They go looking for the cubs on the property of the man who shot the mother bear. He agrees to let them look around, and, when Max and Sarah see his son, Matthew, they recognize him from school. They don't know him very well and do not trust him; they think he plans to hurt the cubs. Abbie, Max and Sarah find the cubs and capture them, taking them back to Wild Paws. Abbie finds some suitable formula to feed the cubs, and the girls are thrilled to give them their bottles. Now Abbie announces that she cannot keep the cubs at Wild Paws - they will grow too big. They find the name of a bear sanctuary not too far away and plan to take them there. Meanwhile, Matthew comes looking for the cubs. Thinking that they are going to be kept like zoo animals, he tries to free them. After the girls explain that they are only protecting and feeding the cubs, he becomes more friendly, and an understanding is reached. The cubs are safely delivered to the sanctuary, and all is well.

     This book is the fourth in the “Wild Paws” series. Max, the enthusiastic lover of animals, is a young girl, possibly 11 or 12-years-old. The characters are all engaging and entertaining, the dialogue lively, and a lot of information is packed into the story. The humane treatment of animals and the philosophy of returning creatures to the wild instead of keeping them in cages are emphasized. The children are perhaps drawn larger than life in their enthusiasm for work and research and in their cleverness in dealing with adult problems. In the context of this story, Abbie describes black bears as generally shy and harmless, downplaying the fact that some bears become "nuisance" bears and create a danger to humans. She takes two very young girls out into the bush looking for the cubs without mentioning that this could be a foolhardy pursuit that could lead them into danger from adult bears. Young people reading this story should be warned not to take the presence of a bear so lightly and to be more cautious than the characters are in this story.


Luella Sumner, of Red Rock, ON, is a retired librarian.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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