Friday, April 30, 2021

The Water Bears by Kim Baker - ADVISABLE

The Water Bears by Kim Baker, 262 pages. Wendy Lamb Books (Penguin Random House), 2020. $17

 Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (bear attack) 



13yo Newton survived a vicious bear attack over a year ago, which left him with an injured leg, bad dreams and unwanted attention. When Newton and his friend Ethan find a large wooden bear statue, Ethan makes a wish, and it comes true! Newton thinks it's a coincidence, and even though he has a wish - a big one - he doesn't believe the answer is as simple as wishing on a statue. 

I wasn't sure if there was real magic in this story or not, certainly there were magicians, and a belief by a lot of people that magical things happen, but whether or not the bear really could grant wishes felt ambiguous. Newton's family is the only Latinx family on the island, so I liked the bit of culture and the sprinkling of Spanish. Some elements were strange, like the birthday gift Newt gets when he wanted a bike - an old Taco Truck that hardly anyone minds that a 13yo is driving around. A bit weird, but not too, I think middle school readers will appreciate this story of recovery, of wanting to not be noticed, and of hoping your dreams come true - or in Newt's case, hoping your dreams go away.

Lisa Librarian

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