24 November 2012

Soldier Bear by Bibi Dumon Tak

This short novel for tweens is based on a true historical occurrence: during World War II, a bear joined the ranks of the Polish Army. 

One day, soldiers of the Polish 22nd Transport Artillery Supply Company, Peter, Stanislav, Pavel, Janusz, and Lolek, were sent to transport a truckload of equipment, and on the way the boys decided to take a break from the heat of the truck to sit outside in the shade and share a snack. It was during this break that they saw a young Iranian boy holding a blanket, and wrapped inside was a tiny bear cub. They paid the young boy with food in exchange for the bear, and from that moment on vowed to care for and raise the bear - named Voytek - as their comrade and their mascot. With some convincing, Voytek was even officially named a Private in the Polish Army.

This is the story of Peter, Voytek, and their friends during their years in service against the Nazis during World War II. It's a fascinating and almost unbelievable story that is told in an approachable way for all young middle grade readers to enjoy.
Wojtek with artillery ammo – sign painted on 22nd Artillery Supply Company vehicles. (image from Wikipedia)

For more information, start here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wojtek_%28soldier_bear%29

Reviewed by kate the librarian.

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