It’s a snowy day here, and going to get snowier. The perfect day to review the two bear books I read in January!
Found abandoned in a bear cave as a baby, 12-year-old Yanka has always felt out of place in her small village. When she wakes up to find that her legs have become bear legs, she sets off into the forest to discover who she is, on a journey that takes her from icy rivers to smouldering mountains, with an ever-growing group of misfits alongside her… Interwoven with traditional stories of bears, princesses and dragons, Yanka’s journey is a gorgeously lyrical adventure from the best-selling author of The House With Chicken Legs.
I absolutely adored this middle grade book! I loved Yanka’s journey to find herself and her history, and the lengths she went to in order to make this discovery. Her journey took her on quite an adventure, with wolves and dragons and near death experiences – all while sorting through her own emotions and feelings about who she is and who she wants to be.
I also loved the “herd” she made along the way. They say friends are the family we make for ourselves, and Yanka, whose family had been very small, added a whole menagerie creatures and people to her family. Mousetrap, Yanka’s house weasel, is such a fun character and I know that when Wyatt and I read this book one day in the future, he is going to get a kick out of him.
I am so happy that I bought this book for our home library – and I plan on adding The House with Chicken Legs very soon!
Fresh off her wolverine study in Montana, wildlife biologist Alex Carter lands a job studying a threatened population of polar bears in the Canadian Arctic. Embedded with a small team of Arctic researchers, she tracks the majestic bears by air, following them over vast, snowy terrain, spending days leaning precariously out of a helicopter with a tranquilizer gun, until she can get down on the ice to examine them up close.
But as her study progresses, and she gathers data on the health of individual bears, things start to go awry. Her helicopter pilot quits unexpectedly, equipment goes missing, and a late-night intruder breaks into her lab and steals the samples she’s collected. She realizes that someone doesn’t want her to complete her study, but Alex is not easily deterred.
Managing to find a replacement pilot, she returns to the icy expanses of Hudson Bay. But the helicopter catches fire in midflight, forcing the team to land on a vast sheet of white far from civilization. Surviving on the frozen landscape is difficult enough, but as armed assailants close in on snowmobiles, Alex must rely on her skills and tenacity to survive this onslaught and carry out her mission.
I was so super excited to read this book – I had loved A Solitude of Wolverines and was anxiously awaiting the next in the series. However, I had mixed feelings about this book. I loved parts of it – there is so much information about polar bears and the town of Churchill that I found interesting. Like did you know that polar bears all have unique whisker points on their face? And that there is a Whiskerpoint Project to collect these IDs? I didn’t either, and how fascinating! Although I would not want to be the one to collect that data. Yikes. And the book didn’t shy away from what climate change is doing to polar bears and their habitat, and also what all the plastics in the world are doing to them either. It was depressing. I always have to skim by anything that talks about how polar bears are suffering, it just really bothers me. I know there would be information on it obviously going into this book, so I was prepared for it but it is still upsetting. That bothered me but didn’t detract from the read in any way. As I said, it was expected and would have been very out of place to omit. All of the book that centered around wildlife biologist Alex were fantastic.
Which brings me to the other half – the action hero Alex. I totally get her background and that she is a total BA, and in the first book, it is only a minor part of the story, compared to this one. It was just. too. much. It actually made it really hard for me to finish reading. It was just over the top I guess, in my opinion. I can of course suspend reality when reading, that is part of the point, and I don’t need books to be totally realistic because that is not why I read fiction. I read nonfiction for that. But this one was just a bit too heavy on the action part for me. I was hoping and expecting some, as it was an exciting part of Wolverines. But it was too much. Will this stop me from reading a third book in the series? Probably not. I will give it another go, this is only the second in the series so perhaps Henderson is finding her way with Alex still. We will see.