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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Ben Kilhamm, a naturalist living in rural New Hampshire, takes the reader on a wonderful and insightful journey into the lives of wild bear cubs. He begins his adventure at the suggestion of a friend who has two abandoned and malnourished bear cubs. Although Kilhamm has spent his life around animals, helping to care for those that were sick and injured, this would be his first experience with bears. He begins with very little knowledge of raising cubs and decides that the best way for these bears to have a future is to be raised in the wild. And so Ben begins his life as a surrogate mother to the cubs, and with this new role comes lots of adventure and mishap.
As the bears bond with their surrogate parent, we are given a deeper insight into how bears communicate, experience the world around them, and care for each other. With each set of cubs that Ben brings up we are introduced to different and complex personalities. We find out through Ben's experience that the bears' bond with each other and him by suckling. We also learn that they communicate their plans to each other ahead of time, with one of the cubs letting Ben know what they intend. As the bears get older, Ben takes them on longer journeys through the woods of New Hampshire, and it is during these walks that we see the cubs explore their world. Some of the trees that the cubs come upon seem to really excite them, indicating that they are a bulletin board of sorts for the bears in the area. When one of the cubs is left behind, it will let out a cry of distress, and its sibling will respond by going back. The cubs also help each other navigate; if one has trouble climbing down a rocky slope, the other will go back and offer instruction, guiding its sibling the whole way down. Ben also conducts little experiments with the cubs: At one point he leaves a mirror in their pen and observes their highly interesting reactions.
Reading about Ben's cubs, the reader becomes invested in their future, rooting for them to make it safely into adulthood and beyond. We are being given a special insight into the lives and personalities of these subtle creatures. The author's decision to write about his experiences has helped to break down some of the myths about bears and to show us how intricately connected everything in nature is. This book makes for a wonderful and enlightening read. (Stephanie Clark)