________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 14 . . . . December 4, 2009


Hear My Roar: A Story of Family Violence.

Gillian Watts. Art by Ben Hodson.
Toronto, ON: Annick Press, 2009.
56 pp., pbk. & hc., $9.95 (pbk.), $19.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55451-201-0 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55451-202-7 (hc.).

Subject Heading:
Family violence-Comic books, strips, etc.-Juvenile fiction.

Kindergarten-grade 5 / Ages 5-10.

Review by Ruth McMahon.

**½ /4


Papa Bear : [Orsa] Don't talk back to me!

I spend all day in the forest trying to find us food and firewood. When I get home I'm cold and tired. Give me some more wine.

Some bears drink jack-berry wine to make them feel warm and to fill their empty bellies. Papa likes jack-berry wine, but it makes him act silly and angry.

Papa Bear : C'mon Orsa, smarten up! Don't act so stupid!

Mama Bear : Don't you think you've had enough wine? You're going to have a sore head in the morning.

Papa Bear : I don't care -- I'll do what I want!


The Bear family hopes things will get better after hibernation, but they do not. Mama Bear and Orsa seek help from their family physician, and, after the next violent episode, they find their way to a shelter. Dr. Owl visits Papa Bear and convinces him to get the help he needs so that their family can get back together.

internal art

     This book, a reworking of an earlier book by Ty Hochban, published in 1994, was written to be read by parents and caregivers. The reworking by Gillian Watts and illustrated by Ben Hodson takes the form of a graphic novel. It is hoped that this "version will speak directly to young readers and encourage them to talk with someone in a position to help."

     Graphic novels are certainly hot commodities for accomplished and reluctant readers alike. The 10-year-old in my house has read through it twice. She found it compelling reading and thought it would be very useful for the counselors at her school to have on hand for her peers. I found the message to be direct and hopeful.

     As Hear My Roar is a Canadian publication, I was disappointed to see that all the supporting materials listed were American, with the exception of the Canadian Kids Help Phone number. The Afterword was written by an American. A quick Googling of "domestic violence Canada"' brought up a myriad of sites, notably www.safecanada.ca, a government site that listed countless other sites and documents. Although there are just a few Canadian books on the subject, none of them were listed in the supporting bibliography.

     I think Hear My Roar would be a very useful title in the hands of school counselors, teachers, health care professionals and social workers. Given the small number of titles on this subject available in a random selection of public libraries in Canada, I think it would be a useful addition to public and school libraries.


Ruth McMahon is a professional children's librarian, storyteller, co-chair of the Rocky Mountain Children''s Choice Book Award, and the mother of two elementary school aged children.

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

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
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