CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 7 . . . . October 14, 2011
Fraser Bear: A Cubís Life follows the life of a black bear cub from birth to adulthood and the parallel life cycle of the salmon that the cub relies on for food. This book is more nonfiction than fiction even though it is written as a narrative. The book begins in January with two bear cubs cuddled in their den with their mother. The salmon have just begun their long trip back to their spawning grounds. The main character, Fraser, is given his name in February by a little girl helping her father, a biologist, to tag the mother bear. This is the only part of the story that is more fiction than nonfiction. The rest of the story describes the bears acting like bears in the wild as opposed to cartoon bears. The name Fraser is a reference to the setting of the story, in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia by the Fraser River. The story is written in third person. The language in the book is easy to read and understand. Fraserís life is depicted accurately, and facts explaining the content are included in the back of the book. Perhaps because of this factual nature, I felt that this book would be a great teaching book, but not as good for recreational reading. As a teacher, I could see that this book would help students easily understand the intertwined lives of bears and salmon and give a glimpse into how a bear behaves in the wild. As far as picking this book up for a read aloud, I think that the book was too slow moving. The author used some descriptive words, but I never felt that I was transported into the setting.
Renne Benoitís watercolour illustrations add to the nonfiction nature of this book. The illustrations enhance the text of the story by accurately portraying the bears and the natural setting. Benoit uses muted earth tones in her illustrations. Ironically, I thought that the front cover illustration of a bear catching salmon was more indicative of the content of the book than the illustration on the front of the dust jacket of a bear eating berries.
Fraser Bear: A Cubís Life is an excellent teacher resource but a limited read aloud.
Recommended with reservations.
Vikki Houston is a Lead Kindergarten teacher in Oshawa, ON.
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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.