I saw this diverse read written by Kim Baker at the OLA Super Conference earlier this year. I love the cover of The Water Bears and decided to pick it up.
Genre: Middle Grade
A story about a boy recovering from a bear attack with the help of his friends and maybe, some magic.
All Newt Gomez wants for his thirteenth birthday is a bike. After surviving a bear attack last year, he thinks this isn’t an unreasonable request. Instead, his hardworking parents give him a former taco truck to help him get around the wacky island where they live in the Pacific Northwest. And then Newt and his best friend Ethan find a life-sized wooden bear washed up on the shore. Ethan is convinced the bear grants wishes; Newt doesn’t know what to think.
Newt also has a big decision ahead: go to middle school on the island, or to the mainland where his warm extended family lives? There, he won’t be the only Latinx kid; he doesn’t have bad dreams about the attack, and not everyone knows what happened to him. Newt secretly plots to move to his abuela’s house, but his truck is stolen with the maybe-magic bear inside. He must confront his fears and adapt to the reality of a world that’s often uncertain, but always full of salvageable wonders.
This is a wonderful and poignant story that middle grade readers will enjoy. It contains a little adventure, some facts about nature, and features a boy who learns the value of friendship and that it is okay to be a little different.
Newt has experienced a traumatic event (the bear attack) and slowly learns to accept what has happened to him. He also learns, with the help of his friends, that he can move on from his experience – and that it is okay to move on in a way of his choosing. Newt learns that despite the bear attack, he can still enjoy moments in his life – and that he can continue to do things that he enjoyed in the past.
I like the message in this story; it is a message that will sit well with preteens when they read the book. They will learn what it is to be accepted; as well as what it means to be different. The Water Bears is a well-written story that will appeal to children who enjoy reading novels that show growth in the main character.
I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 stars.
© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020
(This novels was the 59th novel in my book pledge for 2020)