Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

A Bear in War

A Bear in War

Stephanie Innes, Harry Endrulat
Illustrator:  Brian Deines 
Picture Book
For ages 7 to 9
Pajama Press, 2013   ISBN: 978-1927485125

On a cold, snowy winter’s day a girl called Aileen rode home in a sleigh pulled by horses. In her lap sat a new toy bear called Teddy and he did not mind in the least that Aileen had had polio and that one of her legs was in a brace. He was just happy to be in her life. Soon after they arrived at the family farm Teddy met Aileen’s younger brother, Howard, and her father. Howard thought Teddy was “kind of small,” but Daddy understood that “Sometimes the smallest ones have the biggest hearts.”

   Teddy learned that everyone in the family did chores every day, and he also learned about something called “war.” He quickly decided that he did not like war one little bit. In the evening Daddy read about the “Great War” in the newspaper and when it was bedtime he carried Aileen and Teddy upstairs to bed.

   When Aileen and her family went to church the next day Teddy saw recruiting posters and noticed that very few men attended the service. Aileen explained that many of the “daddies” had got to Europe to fight in the war.

   One night Aileen’s daddy came to tell her that he too was going to go to Europe to fight in the war. Aileen missed her father a great deal when he left and everyone in the family, except Teddy, wrote letters to him every evening. Daddy wrote back faithfully as often as he could. Aileen felt so sad when she heard about how cold, tired and homesick Daddy was.

   When Christmas came around Aileen decided that she needed to send something special to Daddy that would “remind him of home and keep him safe.” Aileen and Teddy decided that Teddy would go to Belgium in a box to be with Aileen’s father.

   Inspired by the true story of a teddy bear “that was sent to the front lines during World War I.” this remarkable book will give children a sense of what it was like living on the home front. They will also find out what it was like to witness a war from the inside of a war medic’s pocket. Aileen’s father’s great-granddaughter, Stephanie Innes, wrote this story with author Harry Endulat, and it serves as a tribute to the young men who left their homes and families to serve in WWI. It also shows to get effect that people left at home had to have courage too. It was not easy living with worry and fear.