Posted on October 14th, 2014 by pajamapress
“This companion to A Bear in War (2009) extends the story of a Canadian girl’s teddy bear, who rode out WWI in the uniform pocket of the girl’s father and was returned after the he died in battle. Now, during WWII, the little girl has grown into a nurse assigned to a train carrying “guest children” across Canada. These children have been sent by their British parents to escape Nazi bombings.
Nurse Aileen befriends a brother and sister who are being sent to a farm couple in Winnipeg and gives Teddy to the boy to comfort him. As before, Teddy narrates the story and also speaks directly to the boy and his sister. Deines’ watercolors impart a nostalgic feel to the story, which lasts until the end of the war, when the two children return home and Teddy returns to Aileen. Though lacking the photos that helped make the first book so fascinating, this is an appealing look into a little-known part of WWII.”
— Connie Fletcher
Posted on October 14th, 2014 by pajamapress
“This is the second picture book about a teddy bear’s adventure created by the team of Stephanie Innes, Harry Endrulat and Brian Deines. The first book, A Bear in War, follows the adventures of a teddy bear on the front lines during World War I. In this second book, Bear on the Homefront, the reader follows this same teddy bear’s adventures, except the story takes place on the homefront during World War II.
During the second World War, as a result of the heavy bombings, many English children were shipped to allied countries to keep them safe. In Bear on the Homefront, Grace and William Chambers are sent to Canada to live with a family on their farm in Winnipeg. In Halifax, they are met by a nurse named Aileen Rogers, who accompanies them on their journey. To help alleviate the fear and stress the children are feeling, Aileen gives them her beloved teddy bear to comfort them while they’re in Canada. The teddy bear recounts the events that happen during his time with the children until he is returned to Aileen once again.
The story is created using events from Aileen Rogers’ diary and making her real-life teddy bear the narrator. Giving the teddy bear a voice and telling the story from his perspective makes the book more appealing to young readers and enables parents and educators to introduce history in an interesting way. The book can also be used with older readers as a means of introducing some of the events that occurred in World War II and providing further opportunities for children to research the events and facts for the time period presented in the text.
The beautiful and calming illustrations by Brian Deines enhance the text and hold the reader’s attention. Bear on the Homefront is a wonderful way to introduce children to history. It can be used to generate discussions about feelings that accompany life changes and to encourage children to seek out further information about world history.”
—Delia Cipollone Antonacci is a Professor in the Library and Information Technician Program, Seneca College
Posted on October 1st, 2014 by pajamapress
“In this companion piece to Bear in War (2012), Teddy the stuffed bear provides comfort to two young children who have been evacuated from England to Canada during World War II. In the first book, Teddy is the real-life connection between Aileen Rogers and her father who was fighting on the front lines in World War I. When her father was killed, Teddy was returned to Aileen who kept it as a memento of her late father. Teddy turns up again in this story when Aileen is grown and working as a nurse with English evacuees in Canada. Sensing the uncertainty and loneliness in the two children she is escorting to their temporary home, Aileen gives Teddy to Grace and William for their time away from England. This story offers children a glimpse into what life had to have been like during that time period when youngsters were forced to leave their families so that they might survive the war. The host family has a working farm that the children help with over the five years of the war. When it is time to go back home, the children decide that Teddy needs to return to Aileen as well. The story is touching without any hint of sentimentality. The soft, warm palette of the art is beautifully rendered in oils and adds the perfect touch to this heartwarming story.”
—Joan Kindig, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA
Posted on July 17th, 2014 by pajamapress
“…Inspired by events recounted in Aileen Rogers’ diary, Bear on the Homefront takes Teddy out of the war zone but still working to comfort those impacted by war. And by giving Teddy a voice, Stephanie Innes (the great niece of Aileen Rogers) and Harry Endrulat have endeared the little bear with even more heart than his simple form may suggest. His longing for Aileen and his honest reflections are not dissimilar to the children’s own, though they all recognize the value in perseverance, even if it is difficult.
The text and atmospheric oil on canvas illustrations of Brian Deines lend an authenticity to the memories held within Bear on the Homefront. Teddy has an important story to tell…For his heroic efforts in comforting and giving voice to others when their own words and thoughts probably failed them, Teddy is now safe and treasured at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. So, Bear at the Homefront gives us one more happy ending from a time when there weren’t many.”
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