Every library should own The Bear: NZ National Library

The Bear with the Sword

'Every library at every level should own this book. Every teacher should read it to their class.'

SOMETIMES a quick web surf can trawl up something marvelous. Here’s a review of Davide Cali and Gianluca Foli’s The Bear with the Sword published some time ago on the National Library of New Zealand’s Services to Schools blog:

Once upon a time there was a bear with a sword …

Davide Cali’s picture book is a parable with a cutting edge. It is a powerful and thought provoking story about taking personal responsibility and protecting the environment. With his sharp sword and an inflated sense of power the bear destroys everything that surrounds him. When his impregnable fortress is submerged he sets out, sword in hand to find the culprits. A quirky cast of damaged animals protest their innocence and the domino effect his destruction has caused becomes clear. The bear finally realises that his own actions have created the chaos and he must take responsibility and make amends.

Gianluca Foli’s deceptively simple line and colour drawings embellish the story and provide subtle subtext. The brown bear powerfully dominates each frame and his victims are reduced visually but are very feisty vocally.

Cali says in an interview on www.wilkinsfarago.com.au that ‘Often we accuse somebody or something for things which happen to us. I think this is quite stupid. We’re responsible for ourselves, for what we do, and everything we do has got some consequence.’

When I shared this story with Year 2 students they were enthralled and infuriated. In a spirited discussion that covered all the literacy key competencies one little boy commented. ‘That bear should learn to take the blame when he wrecks things’ and a little girl piped up ‘just like BP’. Out of the mouths of six year olds!.

Every library at every level should own this book. Every teacher should read it to their class.

Glad I went surfing!

By the way, teachers’ notes for the book, and many others, can be found on our website here.