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Soldier Bear

by Bibi Dumon Tak
Illustrated by Philip Hopman
Translated by Laura Watkinson from the Dutch

Published by Eerdmans, 2011
145 pages
ISBN: trade 978𢠪028-53752

Ages 7-10

During World War II, a Polish supply unit serving in Iran encountered a young boy who asked if they would trade food and money for what he was carrying in a squirming burlap bag. They opened the bag to reveal a bear cub, and the soldiers readily agreed to the trade. They named the little bear Voytek and took him into their unit as a mascot. Voytek traveled with them everywhere they went, quickly winning over even the most hardened officers with his amusing antics. He was even officially sworn into the Polish Army as a private. As he grew, the bear not only entertained the soldiers by getting into mischief, he also lifted their spirits and raised morale in the midst of war抯 harsh realities. With a pitch-perfect storytelling voice, this short, poignant novel remarkably recreates a time and a place, and is all the more unusual because it抯 based on something that actually happened. Black-and-white photographs accompany an author抯 note at the end, showing us the real Voytek and some of the men with whom he served.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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