________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number 31. . . April 21, 2017


A Bear’s Life. (My Great Bear Rainforest).

Ian McAllister & Nicholas Read. Photographs by Ian McAllister.
Victoria, BC: Orca, August, 2017.
32 pp., hc., pdf & epub, $19.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-1270-3 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-4598-1271-0 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-1272-7 (epub).

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.

Review by Gillian Richardson.

**** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



The beach can be a banquet for bears. You just have to know how to get your paws on what’s there. Have you ever tried eating a barnacle? Bet you haven’t. But bears are so strong they can pry them off rocks as easily as we bite corn off a cob. Then they eat them like popcorn.

They also move rocks around to set free small sea creatures like crabs, and eels, all of which make tasty bear snacks. Bears also like clams. Some bears eat just the meat inside the shell and some eat the entire clam—shell and all.


The Great Bear Rainforest is an awe-inspiring wilderness location. Remote, extensive, full of treasures like colossal old growth trees and the wealth of biodiversity that comprises such habitat, it is the object of special concern by conservationists. What better way for a nature photographer to bring its ageless worth to the world’s attention than by sharing his work in this setting? The talented team of Ian McAllister and Nicholas Read, inspired by McAllister’s photos, has already created several engaging nonfiction books for older readers about the bears and wolves that live in the Great Bear Rainforest. This picture book is the second in a series for younger readers, including Wolf Island.

     The incredible close-up photos lead the reader from spring to fall in the rainforest as the easy-to-read text introduces each unique and special aspect of the bears’ home. It is the source of everything needed for a rich life; the adults will pass their intimate knowledge of the surroundings and their skills to cubs that have much to learn as they grow through play and discovery. Details of the spirit bear—the white phase of black bears only found in the Great Bear Rainforest—include their numbers and the indigenous legend about their color being a reminder of the Ice Age, and a promise by Raven that they would be expert fishers; scientists think the white coat is less visible against the sky to fish.

     Several pages discuss the bears’ food, meat gleaned from the beaches and berries from the land. One bump in the road is evident here as five pages of information about the spirit bear interrupts the flow of details about the stream and beach banquet and the following page about vegetarian food. That page then leads smoothly into the fall activity which focuses on bears gorging on salmon prior to hibernation. This is a minor quibble in an otherwise impressive presentation.

     The writing style is especially inviting to younger readers when the author speaks directly to them: “Cubs learn lessons…but sometimes all they want to do is play and let off steam. Just like you.” Text and photos are well integrated. Obviously the photographer’s home location within the rainforest has been a significant advantage, no doubt allowing the collection of a huge selection of bear images from which to choose.

     Hopefully this author-photographer duo still have more to offer all ages about British Columbia’s endangered rainforest as a way to encourage conservation efforts.

Highly Recommended.

Gillian Richardson is a freelance writer living in BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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