Summers with the Bears: Six Seasons in the North Woods

Jack Becklund, Author
Jack Becklund, Author Hyperion Books $21 (192p) ISBN 978-0-7868-6393-8
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999
Release date: 03/01/1999
Paperback - 192 pages - 978-0-7868-8537-4
Prebound-Sewn - 978-0-613-27105-9
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A sharp eye and clear prose make Becklund's account of his and his wife's friendship with a group of black bears a delightful, heartwarming read. When Jack and Patti Becklund moved from Florida back to a creek-side A-frame in Jack's hometown of Grand Marais, Minn., they both subscribed to the philosophy that ""bears were most useful when turned into bearskin rugs."" But after they found a lonely yearling eating the sunflower seeds they had set out for the birds, their hearts were stolen. A few pans of seeds later, Patti made friends with the cub, naming her Little Bit, and soon the Becklunds had as many as 12 yearlings and adult bears tussling in the grass of their backyard (and eating up to 700 pounds of corn in a summer). Their yard had become a sanctuary from the area's hunters, a place to fatten up before the next winter. Jack's keen observations track the bears' growth and development over six summers, but the centerpiece is the unique friendship the Becklunds developed with Little Bit. Becklund's prose occasionally turns sentimental, but most readers will forgive him for that: one day Little Bit ""nuzzled Patti's hand, as she often did when she wanted to be hand-fed... Patti picked up the nuts... [but] because of very low blood pressure, she'd become dizzy and her hand was shaking. Little Bit saw her hand.... She lifted her large paw, cupped it beneath Patti's hand, and actually held her hand steady while gently picking the nuts up with her mouth."" Stories like these would be hard to believe if they weren't corroborated by the 42 b&w photos that grace the text. (Mar.)
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