Saving Yasha: The Incredible True Story of an Adopted Moon Bear

Overview

"Move aside, panda ... Photographed here with affection and care, moon bears, also known as Asiatic black bears, rival their Chinese cousins in childlike appeal." --The New York Times

Named 2013 Outstanding Science Trade Book for Students K-12 by the National Science Teachers Association and the Children's Book Council

"In the early spring, when the snow was still deep, in a den inside a big hollow ...

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Overview

"Move aside, panda ... Photographed here with affection and care, moon bears, also known as Asiatic black bears, rival their Chinese cousins in childlike appeal." --The New York Times

Named 2013 Outstanding Science Trade Book for Students K-12 by the National Science Teachers Association and the Children's Book Council

"In the early spring, when the snow was still deep, in a den inside a big hollow tree, Yasha was born. There, he and his mother lived, warm and snug. But one day, hunters came and Yasha's mother was gone."
 
So begins the true story of Yasha, an orphaned moon bear, and how he was adopted into a brand new family. Left without his mother in the Russian wilderness, Yasha was scared and alone. Would he be an orphan forever? Then, two young scientists named Liya and Sergey take him deep into the forest to teach him how to live in the wild. Yasha meets two more cubs, Shum and Shiksha, and soon the three bears are playing together like real brothers and sisters. The scientists protect their new family, but it is also their mission to raise the cubs to become wild bears with skills to survive on their own.
 
Through heartwarming photographs of this unique rescue story, we watch Yasha learn and grow with his new family until he's finally ready to be on his own. Curious kids will also appreciate looking at the map of Yasha's homeland and places where other moon bears live, as well as learning interesting facts about them.

National Geographic supports K-12 educators with ELA Common Core Resources.
Visit www.natgeoed.org/commoncore for more information.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Named 2013 Outstanding Science Trade Book for Students K-12 by the National Science Teachers Association and the Children's Book Council

"Move aside, panda ... Photographed here with affection and care, moon bears, also known as Asiatic black bears, rival their Chinese cousins in childlike appeal." --The New York Times

"The vibrant photographs provide a rare glimpse of a unique species." --Publisher's Weekly

"Looking positively fetching in the big, color photos, shaggy Yasha and his ursine cohorts grow visibly as they ramble through woodsy settings, splash in a river and survive an encounter with a prowling tiger before being deemed ready to live on their own." --Kirkus Reviews

"This warm accounting of a lifesaving partnership between animals and humans will be a popular addition for browsing." --School Library Journal

School Library Journal
K–Gr 2—Yasha was rescued by scientists after hunters killed his mother and is being raised in the Durminskoe Game Preserve in Russia to remain a wild creature. Full-page, full-color photographs show the distinctive white fur necklace, long tongue, and claws of the young bear. Two other orphaned cubs were taken to live with Yasha, and they bond to form a "family" that lasts beyond their winter hibernation. Only slightly marred by some fictionalizing, e.g., Yasha cried and felt happy and proud after he escaped from a tiger by scrambling up a tree, this is a lovely introduction to Asiatic black bears. The book doesn't have as much factual information as Brenda Z. Guiberson's Moon Bear (Holt, 2010), but it includes an informative range map, a fact list (weighing less than a pound when born, an adult moon bear can weigh more than 400 pounds), a one-page project description, and a list of zoos and sanctuaries where one can see moon bears. This warm accounting of a lifesaving partnership between animals and humans will be a popular addition for browsing.—Frances E. Millhouser, formerly at Chantilly Regional Library, Fairfax County, VA
Publishers Weekly
Kvatum tells the story of an orphaned moon bear, rescued in the Russian forest by Pokrovskaya and a fellow scientist, and its rehabilitation in a wilderness refuge. Pokrovskaya and her colleague introduce Yasha to other orphaned cubs, and they “became a family.” Photographs show the bears playing in water, hanging from trees, and Pokrovskaya quietly observing Yasha (“The scientists were always kind and gentle, but they wore special clothing to cover their smell and never talked or played with the cubs. They wanted to make sure the cubs would grow up to live as wild bears”). The vibrant photographs provide a rare glimpse of a unique species. Ages 4–up. (July)
Kirkus Reviews
Not one but three roly-poly moon bear cubs star in this true animal rescue tale. Orphaned by poachers, Yasha, joined later by Shum and Shiksha, are nurtured by Pokrovskaya and another scientist for nearly two years on a game preserve until they were ready to be released into the Siberian wild. Taking a slightly anthropomorphized bear's-eye point of view ("Yasha was happy with his new home"), Kvatum chronicles the cubs' development as they learn to forage on their own while playing together and learning to climb trees. She also notes how important it is for human observers to remain aloof--minimizing physical contact and even wearing scent-concealing clothing--to prevent the animals from becoming dependent or domesticated. Looking positively fetching in the big, color photos, shaggy Yasha and his ursine cohorts grow visibly as they ramble through woodsy settings, splash in a river and survive an encounter with a prowling tiger before being deemed ready to live on their own. An affectionate picture of bears and bear scientists, capped with a page of moon bear facts and an afterword. (map, bibliography) (Informational picture book. 7-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781426310768
  • Publisher: National Geographic Society
  • Publication date: 7/10/2012
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.50 (w) x 9.60 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

LIA KVATUM loves to tell stories. She thinks a good story is not only entertaining, but is the way to inspire people to do good things. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband Kevin and baby girl Violet. This is her first book for National Geographic.

LIYA POKROVSKAYA was born in Moscow, Russia, and from childhood dreamed of working to save endangered animals around the world. In 2008, she graduated from Moscow State University as a specialist in vertebrate zoology. Her areas of interest are behavioral ecology, behavioral development, large carnivores, and social relations in animals. During her studies she has been on scientific expeditions to the White Sea, the Commander Islands, and Antarctica. She lived in the Russian Far East studying moon bears for almost two years. She has been named a National Geographic Young Explorer for 2009.

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