Papa’s Backpack

James Christopher Carroll. Sleeping Bear, $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-58536-613-2
A small bear wishes he could join his soldier father while he is away. Carroll (The Boy and the Moon) places the bears in a kind of tribal society: they wear feathers on their heads and tunics decorated with spirals and stripes, and the bear’s fellow soldiers are a mixed-species outfit of spear-wielding rabbits, birds, and other creatures. Throughout, Carroll emphasizes soldiers’ nobility (“sometimes soldiers go.../ away for a while,/ to help for a while,/ so I can stay/ and play,” says the young bear), as well as the tenderness of the bear’s father. Rather than fighting their fellow animals, the warriors combat a giant bird that seems to emerge from a storm cloud. The effect is more akin to battling a dragon or the elements (“We’d feel the sting,/ the twisted wind./ We’d taste/ the angry rain”), which helps make the bear’s wish to accompany his father easier to imagine. Blending scratchboard-like textures with dense swirls of color, Carroll’s illustrations dazzle; the story itself is best suited for families who wish to recognize the importance of soldiers while shielding children from the brutality of war. All ages. Agent: Anna Olswanger, Olswanger Literary LLC. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/04/2015
Release date: 07/01/2015
Genre: Children's
Ebook - 32 pages - 978-1-63470-402-1
Portable Document Format (PDF) - 32 pages - 978-1-63470-416-8
Digital Format - 978-1-63470-430-4
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