Imagine the excitement of rooting around in an old attic and discovering the letters, diaries, and photo albums of a relative. What if that memorabilia opened a window on the sinking of the Titanic
, the most famous sea disaster of all time? That's exactly what happened to Leighton H. Coleman III. Exploring the attic of his relative Daisy Corning Stone Spedden, he found many personal treasures, including a charming book Daisy had written for her 8-year-old son, Douglas, in 1913. This story, combined with award-winning artist Laurie McGaw's gorgeous watercolor illustrations, actual family photographs, keepsakes, and historic postcards, weaves the fabric of Polar the Titanic Bear
, an engaging slice of history for all ages, told through the black glass eyes of an extraordinary toy bear named Polar.
The story begins in the toy workshop where Polar is born, and quickly moves to the point where he is given to "Master," Daisy Spedden's son Douglas. Soon the boy and bear are inseparable! As the wealthy Speddens are world travelers, Polar and his new family sail from New York to Algiers and on to the French Riviera, until it comes time for them to return to America on the Titanic. On the fateful night of the sinking, Polar and the Speddens are lucky enough to be lowered down the side of the luxury liner in a lifeboat, but when the family boards the rescue ship, Polar finds himself left behind! How will Polar make it back to his best friend?
In the epilogue, rich with family photographs, the historical context for the story is fully and engagingly explained, with more details on the Titanic disaster as well as a smattering of toy history. This is a wonderful gift book--the richness and emotion of the story are all the more poignant when enhanced by the Spedden family photographs, their tragic personal story, and the reflection of an era that will never exist again. (All ages ... excellent for reading aloud to ages 6 and older, but perfect for 9- to 12-year-olds, too.) --Karin Snelson
From Publishers Weekly
In a curious but successful hybrid of fact and fiction, an affable stuffed polar bear is the narrator of this true tale written in 1913 by Spedden, an American heiress who traveled extensively with her husband and their son, Douglas. Polar, a character modeled on an actual toy that Douglas received as a Christmas gift, offers a chatty travelogue of the Speddens' visits to such locales as Madeira, Algiers and Paris. The bear's detailed account may prove tedious to the target audience-until midway through the book, when the Speddens and Polar board a new luxury liner called the Titanic. The family survives the disastrous collision with the iceberg (however, according to an epilogue by Leighton H. Coleman III, a descendant of the author, Douglas died in a car accident three years later). Snapshots from the Speddens' photo album and other memorabilia (e.g., a 1910 postcard of the F.A.O. Schwartz toy store, where Polar is purchased; a ticket entitling the bearer to use of the Turkish baths aboard the Titanic) provide intriguing glimpses of a long-gone lifestyle. Also evoking the Edwardian era are McGaw's romantic paintings, equally effective in their portrayal of the drama at sea and the love between a boy and his bear. Ages 8-12.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.