The Good Bear

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Thea just wants to be a writer. And she knows that she will be, once she gets a typewriter – she’s written to her dad, Henry, especially to tell him how much she wants one. So she’s beside herself with excitement when Mum arranges for her to go and visit him and his new family in Norway over Christmas.

But Henry’s new life is very different to the one he used to share with Thea – there’s no tinsel, the food’s all different, and the special bond that Thea thought they had seems to have vanished, replaced by awkwardness and silence and a step-brother and sister she never asked for.

Homesick, cold, and alone, Thea just wants to go back to her mum. That is, until she makes an unusual new friend in the form of an old bear, hiding in the woods and desperate for food. Slowly, as Thea and the bear begin to trust each other, their loneliness disappears and blossoms into a real friendship. But a small town in Norway is a dangerous place for a starving, frightened bear, and Thea will have to choose who to trust with her secret if she wants to protect him.

Sarah Lean’s beautifully written story about a lonely girl and a brown bear is a modern fairytale, set against the backdrop of a stunning Scandinavian winter and filled with Christmas folklore, humanity and feeling. Thea herself is a realistic and self aware heroine, at times obstinate and sulky, a child still reeling from her parents’ separation – and at the very heart of this tale is her fragile relationship with her dad Henry, fraught with disappointment and jealousy at the start, and with both eventually realising they have more in common than they thought.

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