Friday, June 11, 2010

Moved to Act

In Moon Bear, readers follow the majestic creature through the seasons as it scrounges for food and finds shelter high in the Chinese Himalayas, and the book ends with the birth of cubs. When any of us is in the presence of animals, whether it be a tiny kitten or an 8-foot bear, we cease to think of anything else. Especially for children, such an encounter can be awe-inspiring. They immediately want to protect and preserve this life form—it’s one of the reasons I suspect that, despite the controversy surrounding even the best of zoo environments, we humans continue to build zoos. Once children are exposed to these animals, they want to preserve them.

When editor Laura Godwin learned about the moon bears and how they were being held in captivity (the bears are farmed for the healing properties of their bile), she wanted to do something about it besides just make a donation. She wanted others to know about the bears. She asked science and nature writer Brenda Guiberson (whose books Laura has edited for more than 20 years) if she knew about the bears and would be interested in writing about their situation. Once Brenda agreed, Laura approached Caldecott medalist Ed Young (whom Laura has also worked with for a number of years) and he, too, agreed.

Laura and Brenda felt it was important to let children know that there were adults working to rescue the moon bears, and that there were ways they, too, could help if they wished. The reference to the bears’ captivity is very subtle in the book (the text refers to “poachers”) but the end note shows rehabilitated bears and gives a link to find out more about Jill Robinson and her team at Animals Asia who are rescuing the bears. Your child will be reassured that efforts are well underway to rescue these magnificent creatures. And if they want to help, there are concrete ways to do so.

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