Rocha, K.E. Secrets of Bearhaven 256 pgs. Scholastic, 2016. $12.99 Content: Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G Violence: PG (Animals being hurt)
Spencer discovers that his parents have a big secret. After his father goes missing, Spencer’s uncle takes him to a secret place where many Bears live. They are not just normal bears, but they have a town of their own and use technology to speak English. Spencer always knew that his parents were bear activists, but not that they could speak to bears and traveled all over the world to rescue them from abusive situations. Now he is determined to help. With the help of his new friend, a bear cub named Kate, he trains and gets ready to be a part of a rescue plan, not only to save his father, but of a bear and her cubs.
This is a very well written book with a good balance of character and world building with action and adventure. I always love a book that promotes being an animal activist. My only concern is that the main plotline is about animal abuse (and basically torture) which can be an upsetting read for students. I wish they could have pulled back just a bit more and had the bears in danger of becoming caged in a zoos or private homes as pets. The world building itself was just fascinating with always a new thing to discover. The animals talking is tech based, not magical, so it puts it in a gray area between genres, and makes it especially interesting. Best for 4th grade and up.
EL –OPTIONAL Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.