From School Library Journal
Gr 1-3-Aileen was a 10-year-old Canadian whose father fought in Europe during World War I. She had a small teddy bear that she treasured and carried with her everywhere until she sent it to her father in Belgium, where he served as a medic. He carried Teddy with him, just as his daughter had. In fact, Teddy was with him when he died on the battleground. Eventually the bear was returned to Aileen. This tender story is punctuated throughout with newspaper cuttings, photos, medals, and other realia from the time period. The endpapers are old family letters and the illustrations are evocative of a time when life was simpler but perhaps not as easy. The palette is muted and soft, which makes the story seem comfortable and safe. Nevertheless, the ending is not a happy one, which complicates identifying the appropriate age range. The death of a parent might place this book in the upper elementary age range but the story is told by a teddy bear, which seems suitable for a much younger audience. The history, the illustrations, and the story itself combine to make a wonderful testimonial to a family who made the greatest sacrifice for their country in World War I. Nevertheless, librarians should be aware of the mismatch between story and the way in which it is told before adding this lovely book to their collections.-Joan Kindig, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VAα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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Based on debut author Innes’ family history, this moving picture book, co-authored by Endrulat, blurs the border between fiction and nonfiction as it tells the story of Innes’ great-grandfather, a Canadian soldier killed in the trenches of World War I. The narrator is a teddy bear, with whom Aileen, 10, shares her secrets about life on a farm in Quebec. Together, the words and warm, unframed illustrations show the loving family and their wrenching parting when Daddy is sent to fight. Aileen mails Teddy to Daddy “to remind him of home and to keep him safe,” and Teddy tells how he watches the war from Daddy’s front pocket until, in 1917, Daddy dies in battle. Then a soldier sends Teddy back to his family with Daddy’s uniform and medals, all of which are now in the Canadian War Museum. The bear’s viewpoint and the sepia-toned family photos set the personal loss against the harsh history, which is further detailed in recruiting posters, medals, and the final death report of Daddy, “killed in action.” Innes’ epilogue completes this moving offering. Grades 2-5. --Hazel Rochman