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Soldier Bear Hardcover – August 22, 2011


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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Bibi Dumon Tak is a Dutch author who has written several non-fiction titles for children, beginning with

in 2001. In her books, Bibi blends literary technique with fact to produce stories that are both compelling and accurate.

is her first novel based on a historical event.

Philip Hopman was born the youngest son of a tulip farmer. But he chose a career in children’s books instead of tulips, and he has illustrated more than 150 books since 1988, including

(Clarion) and

(Kane/Miller).
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 and up
  • Grade Level: 3 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 780L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 158 pages
  • Publisher: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers; Tra edition (August 22, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802853757
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802853752
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #547,051 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By M. Tanenbaum VINE VOICE on January 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In this charming novel for children, Dutch author Bibi Dumon Tak fictionalizes the true story of an orphaned Syrian brown bear cub who's adopted by a group of Polish soldiers during World War II, eventually becoming the unit's beloved mascot. The mischievous bear cub was named Voytek (smiling warrior) by the soldiers. As the soldiers journeyed through Iran and Iraq on their way to their assignment in Palestine to join their Brtish allies, even the officers softened at the adorable teddy bear of a cub. But of course, cute little cubs soon grow big, and Voytek soon is getting into plenty of trouble, especially with the resident monkey, Kaska, who loved to throw stones, sand, or whatever she could find at poor Voytek's head. But that wasn't the whole menagerie that followed the soldiers around; there was also a dog named Stalin, who Kaska liked to hitch rides on, and a dalmatian who loved to romp around with the bear.

Tak writes about the soldiers and their animal friends with such good humor that I found myself laughing out loud at their antics, especially touching in the middle of a war. When the soldiers are sent to supply Allied troops in Italy, Voytek takes his place helping to move live artillery shells, when he's not stealing food from the cook or sliding up and down cranes like an acrobat, stopping traffic as soldiers stopped to cheer him on.

While a story of a tamed bear who's goodnaturedly given chocolate, beer, and cigarettes isn't quite "politically correct" for today's American audience, I was charmed by the story of Voytek, his animal friends, and the soldiers who loved them in the middle of wartime. The book is greatly enriched by the pencil drawings of Dutch illustrator Philip Hopman, which perfectly capture the humor and pathos of the story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Susan Golden on June 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I won't go into the plot here as it has been covered. Soldier Bear has a great deal of humor and charm, surely, but its underlying message is the horror and wanton destruction of war. Beautifully written and superbly illustrated with line drawings, this is a valuable and memorable story of the loyalty of soldiers to each other, and to their mascot, but also memorable for the graphic depiction of the havoc that they experience. A worthy winner of the Batchelder Award, I would recommend this book for a slightly older audience than some reviewers suggest and I also think it would be helpful for an adult to share this with a child and to provide a brief context for the story. This is a story I will long remember and recommend to others.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Heiss on November 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is a great book for kids just starting to understand the great cost that has been paid for liberty by previous generations.

Studying WWII and the US Constitution, tie in this book as a read-aloud for 3rd/4th graders, and as an assignment for older children. (I'm basing this on the Polish names).

Very well written, entertaining, and still conveys war truths.
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Format: Hardcover
Book #67 Read in 2012
Soldier Bear (YA) by Bibi Dumon Tak

This book was based on the true story of a bear cub, adopted by Polish soldiers during World War II, and his place in their patroon. The soldiers decide that the bear, named Voytek, is their mascot and they bring them along with him--even though he steals their Christmas dinner, even though he begs for food, even though he takes up most of the bed. Voytek also brings them joy, love and a connection that they desperately need in a horrific time in their lives.

This book is geared for younger readers (I would say 6th grade and below). The chapters are short and the writing is simplistic but it is a good story and would interest reluctant readers. The book contained pictures of the real Voytek and his soldier family. I enjoyed this book.
[...]
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Format: Hardcover
This book is a real hit for my 8-year old, who has an increasing interest in the war time era. She has read Once, When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, Boy in Striped Pajamas and Number the Stars. This book, however, struck a real chord. She said that it is wonderful to read something that is humorous, endearing and, most importantly, based on real events! I am grateful that this book was translated because it was so delightful. This is a classic that belongs, not only in a child's collection, but is something to cherish for generations to come.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kristi Bernard on October 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover
A bear, a very smart bear, wonders away from his sleeping master into a camp. He was spotted in the women's quarters of a Polish signals unit. Discovered by Peter, his master and a new friend Stanislav. The story begins, during World War II. Russia and Poland are in a battle and with Germany invading so many countries, Poland and Russia decided they would join the war against Germany. Peter and Stanislav along with two others were assigned to take a truck load of equipment to Palestine. On the way they decide to pull over to rest. They encounter a hungry young boy caring a sack. Inside they discover a cub bear. In exchange for the bear the boy is given food. The soldiers took the bear in and named him Voytek. In time, Voytek becomes a regular member of the camp. He makes friends with a Dalmatian and they are inseparable. In the heat Voytek is cooled down with the camps water, by taking showers. The war continued on and Voytek grew. He rode in the equipment truck with Peter and Stanislav. He would sneak away to do some exploring whenever he had the chance. He begged for honey and water and learned how to smoke. On the frontlines in Italy Voytek learned to carry artillery shells. Voytek was becoming a soldier of the 2nd Polish Corps. An emblem showed a bear with an artillery shell in his paws. As time passed soldiers were entertained and assisted by Voytek. His relationship grew stronger with Peter and Stanislav. Voytek fought in the Polish army for over five years. He spent the rest of his days in the Edinburgh zoo. Young readers will enjoy this wonderful story of a Syrian brown bear and his soldier family. Teachers will love sharing this story of WWII with students. The back of the book gives an accurate account of the bear and the 120 soldiers who loved him.
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