Readers of Morpurgo's Waiting for Anya (1990), which also featured an orphaned bear cub, may feel this novella is set in the same tiny, sheepherding village in the French Pyrenees. Roxanne, a sweet girl who sings like an angel, adopts a gentle abandoned cub that adores her. Years later, when a famous pop singer and his entourage arrive to make a music video based on "The Pied Piper of Hamelin," Roxanne is given a starring role; she is soon charmed away to a life of fame and fortune, leaving her beloved bear behind. The morning after her departure, the bear is found dead, upright in his cage as if staring after Roxanne.
This is an affecting story, certainly, but the bear's sudden death is melodramatic, and Roxanne is such a sympathetic character that her sudden neglect of home ties is scarcely credible. However, the Pied Piper theme is thoroughly developed, and the misty black- and-white drawings echo the pervasive melancholy of the text.