Wild Reading 06/07/20
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Twelve-year-old Tam lives in a forest village in Laos, but his family is relocated when developers move in, with plans to destroy the forest. In the city, he finds work at a bear farm, looking after caged wild bears, which are used to provide ingredients for folk medicines, but is quickly horrified by the way they are treated. When a sick cub arrives at the farm, Tam secretly nurses it back to health, and they develop an intense bond. Tam longs to return his beloved cub to the wild, but how can he find a way to let the bear go free?
Following Sky Hawk and White Dolpin, this compassionate tale of the relationship between a boy and a bear is the third novel from Gill Lewis exploring some of the unethical practises endangering animals around the world. This is a powerful, enlightening and deeply thought-provoking tale; yet Lewis's approach never feels heavy-handed or overtly judgmental, but instead demonstrates that change is achieved by an understanding of the cultural motivations behind these practises, and through sensitive re-education.