Thursday, October 9, 2008

Looking for a great children's book for Remembrance Day?

I recently received a sample copy of the picture book A Bear in War by Stephanie Innes and Harry Endrulat (published October 2008 by Key Porter Books). I had been given colour spreads to sell with, but the finished book really blew me away. The artwork is really lovely, and it is written with a poignancy that will move you to tears. The book is based on a true story. In 1916, Aileen Rogers, a ten-year-old girl from East Farnham, Quebec sent her beloved stuffed bear Teddy in a care package to her father Lawrence, who was fighting on the front lines in Belgium with the First Canadian Mounted Rifles during the First World War. Along with many other Canadian soldiers, Lawrence was killed during the Battle of Passchendaele. Teddy was discovered in the pocket of Lawrence's uniform and was returned home to Aileen and her family. Teddy was eventually donated by the Rogers family to the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, where it is now one of the most popular exhibits. Co-author Stephanie Innes is the great-granddaughter of Lawrence Browning Rogers.

The story is told from the point of view of Teddy, which helps to personalize the experience of war for children. The book gently reinforces the importance of always remembering the sacrifices made by so many Canadian soldiers in wartime. The art is a mix of beautiful soft paintings by Brian Deines and photos of memorabilia, including letters and family photos from the Rogers family, newspaper clippings, a recruitment poster, and Lawrence Browning Rogers' war medals.

Key Porter is doing two launches for the book- one in Ottawa at the Canadian War Museum, and the other at the McMichael Gallery in Kleinburg (just north of Toronto). Here is the information about the events for those who would like to attend:
  • Ottawa: 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, November 8, 2008 at the Canadian War Museum, LeBreton Gallery. The Teddy exhibit will be moved to the LeBreton gallery for the event. There wll be a reading by the authors, during which the pages of the book will be projected onto a large screen. The museum will have their WWI historian on hand to talk about the exhibit. Kid-friendly refreshments will be served following the presentations.
  • Kleinburg: 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM Sunday, November 9th, 2008 at the McMichael Gallery, in connection with the gallery’s Family Sundays program. Author readings will occur at 1:30 and 2:30 and illustrator Brian Deines will conduct art workshops throughout the day. There will be activities for children and kid-friendly refreshments will be served. The Canadian War Museum has generously offered to arrange for Teddy to be on hand for the event.
Teachers and others looking for supplementary material on how to use A Bear in War in curriculum and Remembrance Day programs should also check out the official website for free downloadable lesson plans and activities created by co-author Harry Endrulat. Part of the royalties from sales of the book will be donated to the Royal Canadian Legion's Dominion Command Poppy Trust Fund. FYI- The Legion's website also has a great teacher's guide for Remembrance Day.

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