Shadow of the Bear:
a fairy tale retold - Review
to reviews for ages 14+>
Doman, Regina. (2008) The Shadow of the Bear: a
fairy tale retold. Front Royal, VA: Chesterton
Press. ISBN #978-0-981-93180-7. Author recommended age
14+. Litland.com recommends age 14+.
Publisher's Description: Once upon a time... In New
York City, a young, secretive street tough who calls
himself, Bear, lands on the doorstep of two teenaged
sisters. On the one hand Rose is delighted with his
surprising knowledge of literature, poetry, and music;
on the other hand Blanche is afraid of his apparent
connections to drugs, murder, and a hidden treasure.
Even as Blanche learns to trust him, her fears that
Bear's friendship threatens their family prove
Respect for self and others: This
includes integrity (adherence to a code of
conduct or value system), honesty vs. manipulation or
lying, compassion, caring for others (characters not
focused on getting their way no matter what) self
respect--main character does not let others
denigrate him or her; use of self control and
self-discipline ; taking charge of own behaviour;
fairness to others (such as taking turns and
avoiding the blame game). Reader should ask themselves
“How does the protagonist depict their peers?” “Would
you want others to treat you this way? Should everyone
act this way?” This includes true friendships
that do not involve regular lying, deceit or
manipulation; considering consequences of actions
prior to acting; owning up to responsibility once
an action has been taken.
Integrity is the enacting of one’s stated values. This
story is all about integrity. Each girl must revisit her
desires vs. her values constantly throughout the book,
and then choose which to follow. The self-talk is
realistically worded and poignant, making emotions and
confusion clear yet also showing clear reasoning towards
making the best choices. For example, Rose feels badly
when she is invited to senior prom rather than Blanche,
who is the senior. Also, Rose makes poor choice to go
to house party, going against her gut instinct. But once
in a dilemma, she refuses to succumb to popular
behaviour and finds a way out of the situation. True
friendships are portrayed and contrasted with shallow
alliances of other kids who have no real concern for one
another but, instead, simply use one another to their
Portrayal of Authority
figures: The positive portrayal of parents, teachers, police officers and other “good” authority figures common in a child’s life is a positive influence upon the child’s own moral development. This includes
actively-parenting mother and father figures. Minimization of parental involvement in the character’s activities or the portrayal of authority figures as
inferior present poor role models. Also to be avoided are main characters that
deceive parents and teachers to accomplish goals, and overuse
sarcasm towards authority figures. Ask yourself “Are parents seen as positive or negative influence in the character's life?”
pro-active) parenting is modeled in this story. The
freedom of teens is balanced with a responsibility to
keeping their mother informed of all activities, keeping
to curfew and obeying other rules of the home. Rituals
are adhered to including family meals; home
responsibilities are shared; the parent is in charge as
a benevolent ruler.
At school, while the
principle is not very understanding, the teachers do
show sincere interest in their students.
The police are treated
with respect, and their authoritative roles are clear.
These characters show appropriate level of concern for
the situations into which the girls fall, without being
preachy or cheesy.
All authority figures are
thus properly portrayed and respected.
Patriotism: Loyalty to family, team or group, school, community and world; caring for and being considerate of these
groups. Pride to be part of that group or nationality.
The girls’ loyalty to one
another, their mother, and their deceased father is
consistently strong. Their family is more important than
being accepted by kids at school, and they defend one
another. Respect for their church and its premises
indicates loyalty to their religious “family” as well.
Finally, as their friendship develops with Bear, he too
benefits from their loyalty as they do his.
Justice and Balance: A just distribution between good and evil (with
good outweighing evil in the presence of the storyline);
demonstration of right and wrong; making decisions to enact the above values rather than simply choosing from two bad possibilities; Ask yourself “Is the emphasis on the positive elements or negative?”
Good and evil are clearly
distinguished. The influence of evil upon decision
making is also apparent, and the author has provided
characters who, by living their values and beliefs, do
not end up in hopeless situations. Instead, they arrive
to points where their is a good choice available, even
if not entirely clear at the onset.
Evildoers are obvious,
such as the thief/murderer. It is also more subtle and
intuitive in the description of the popular kids and
Rose’s interactions with/observations of them.
Aesthetic aspects Of
life ExperienceLook for a storyline portrayal of
beauty, health, and selfless love vs. hedonistic behaviours (sexuality, selfishness, obsessiveness, materialism),
profanity, gore and violence. Are nature and environment respected or exploited? Look for
dark elements; watch out for humor that is negative, denigrates others excessively, uses metaphors to
denigrate the sacred.
The dialogue between
characters and self-talk are both culturally rich.
Banter between sisters and their friend Bear is
intelligently witty and wise. It can switch from
fretting over clothing to a thought provoking discourse
on poetry, music or literature, the description of which
adds beauty and depth so the story is never flat. It has
no negative or dark elements or humor, in spite of being
very suspenseful murder mystery. There is lots of action
without unnecessary gore and violence. And the emotions
felt of being an unpopular teen at school are
Love is an underlying
theme throughout the story. The girls’ love for one
another and their mother is ongoing, and it grows in the
budding friendship with Bear.
Other things to
Consider:Other aspects of this book of interest or importance. For example, does it portray Wiccan practices and accurate use of tools of which some parents might object, does it contain
hidden meanings in metaphors that may prove offensive to some families; does it address
personal issues such as puberty or pregnancy.
Beginning with a drug
sale early in the story, it does detail the world in
which teens exist today. Realizing Rob is probably
interested in her body more than her, Rose still lets
herself be coaxed into a bedroom at a beer party, she
chooses to wear a dress a little less modest than should
be worn which implies teasing that adds to the
situation. She is later kidnapped by her peers and in a
situation of near death. There are no hidden agendas of
which to be concerned. However, parents of younger
gifted readers should consider teen lifestyles prior to
deciding if this story is appropriate for their child. See
author website for parent guide to aid you in deciding
acceptability for younger readers. http://www.fairytalenovels.com/docs/Picky%20Parent's%20guide%20to%20Shadow.pdf
So what do YOU think? Read our thoughts on the book and join in the discussion:
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