By Ted Rechlin
Rextooth Studios/Farcountry Press
Bears fascinate us, especially when seen in the wild. Ted Rechlin, author and illustrator, tells the story of three bears in a modern comic book style, "Bears," a High Plains Book Awards finalist in the children’s category.
Part one follows the trail of a mother grizzly and her three cubs as they navigate the wild — encountering a male grizzly looking for an easy lunch, staying safe from tourists in Yellowstone Park, and feasting on elk for dinner.
Part two shows the results of what happens when a black bear wanders into the suburbs. From dumpster diving to playing in a pool, he leads the community on a chase before a groggy trip back to the wild.
Part three tracks an old polar bear’s survival. Forced to tangle with a younger challenger, he wards him off, maintaining his hold as king of the ice.
Rechlin is a great storyteller. The realistic, engaging illustrations keep the pages turning. The layout causes some confusion. Using all caps make the readability difficult as well as the bolded words that don’t have any pattern. A hint of “male bashing” in the black bear’s story is unnecessary. A nice surprise is the inclusion of scientific names.
While "Bears" lays the problems facing these large furry mammals at the feet of humans, Rechlin understates the issue. By the last page, the people and the bears are safe — for now.