Pajama Press

Kirkus Reviews Praises Bear on the Homefront

Posted on August 12th, 2014 by pajamapress

A brother and sister evacuated from England during World War II gather strength from a tiny teddy bear.

BearOnHomefront_cover_rgb_hi-resGrace and William are sent from their home to live with a host family in Canada until the war is over. On arrival, the pair meets Aileen, a nurse who travels with all of the children to make sure they get to their Canadian families safely. Grace and William are scared and homesick, but a small, peanut-shaped bear from Aileen’s pocket helps to comfort them. Teddy narrates the story, which is a bit jarring at first, but Teddy’s gentle tone ends up bringing readers just as much comfort as it does Grace and William. Teddy is the hero from the creative team’s previous real-life war story, A Bear in War (2009), in which a young Aileen Rogers sends the bear to her father stationed in Belgium during World War I. The story is inspired by Rogers’ diary, kept 25 years later while working as a nurse. Teddy might not have had this exact adventure, but the tale truly shows the reassuring presence of just the right toy. Deines’ warm oil paintings, suffused with light, are as tender as Teddy’s tiny embrace.

Child readers, in wartime or not, will give their teddies an extra, grateful squeeze. (afterword) (Picture book. 5-10)