The Water Bears

Kim Baker. Random/Lamb, $16.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-9848-5220-5
Ever since surviving a bear attack that scarred his leg, Mexican-American Newt Gomez, 13, has considered leaving tiny Murphy Island, a resort turned artist community, in hopes that moving to the mainland to stay with his extended family will alleviate his nightmares and give him a fresh start. A carved wooden bear that seems to grant wishes poses an opportunity to change his life, yet Newt is reluctant to believe in magic, despite his best friend’s urgings. Instead, Newt gets wrapped up in other matters—preparing for the upcoming talent show; exploring the island with his new friend, Izzy; and driving the decommissioned taco truck his well-meaning parents gave him instead of a bike. But when the bear vanishes, Newt wonders if he’s lost his chance at happiness. In a deliberately paced novel with a meandering story line, Baker (Pickle) contrasts Newt’s everyday life and quiet desperation with his unusual surroundings and quirky neighbors. The ambiguity of the magical elements—such as the island’s resident lake monster, Marvelo, and the wish-granting bear—reflect Newt’s emotional uncertainty as he faces his traumas in this subtle, satisfying read. Ages 8–12. Agent: Sara Crowe, Pippin Properties. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 03/05/2020
Release date: 04/21/2020
Genre: Children's
Library Binding - 272 pages - 978-1-9848-5221-2
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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