CM . . .
. Volume XI Number 19 . . . . May 27, 2005
I must echo the sentiments expressed on the inner leaf of the book cover: “Two paws way UP!” Doug and Shannon Chapman have written a lovely tale of a beloved toy trying to find its way back to the “Little Girl” who owns him. Jasper is accidentally left on a park bench when Little Girl and her father go to get an ice cream cone. Of course, he is left in Jasper, Alberta. Jasper, the bear, then decides to take matters into his own paws and make his way back to Little Girl who lives near the Big Water.
The authors target their audience, ages 2-6, with age appropriate dialogue. The story, although fairly long, avoids nonessential words and sentences, gets to the point and moves at a steady pace. The story is gentle without being sappy and conveys the sense of loneliness the bear feels without dwelling on his anxiety over being lost.
His adventures include meeting an elk that doesn’t know what to make of a talking stuffed bear. When the bear inquires as to the whereabouts of Little Girl, the elk just stares blankly at him. “He didn’t mean to be rude; it’s just that he didn’t speak Cuddle Buddy and Jasper? Well he couldn’t speak Critter.”
He passes by Maligne Lake, sets out on the Trans-Canada Highway, canoes across Moraine Lake and sticks one paw into the chilly waters of Lake Louise. His travels are embellished with wonderful photographs taken on location using a stuffed polar bear with a red Canada-flag backpack posed as the bear in the story. Children familiar with this part of Canada should have little trouble picking out some of the locations. The story and photographs will, nonetheless, entertain those children who have never travelled the Rocky Mountains.
Mid-way through the story, Jasper has a rather humorous encounter with a monster that turns out to be another lost toy – a timberwolf. The two become fast friends and decide to head off to find Little Girl together.
This book is meant to be first in a series of books exploring Canada. The next book takes Jasper to the Pacific Coast. I’m impressed that, while the objective of the book is to introduce Canada’s natural beauty to young readers, the story of a little bear on an adventure holds its own as a gentle, amusing and adventurous story for young readers.
Barb Taylor, of Calgary, AB, is an early childhood educator and freelance travel writer.
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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.