"Cub’s Journey Home"
By Georgia Graham
Short or long, every journey has a beginning, and Little Cub’s starts deep inside Mother Bear as a tiny speck. The speck begins to grow, and one winter day in a dark cave, Little Cub is born.
"Cub’s Journey Home," a High Plains Book Awards finalist in the children’s category, is written and illustrated by Georgia Graham and invites young children to travel with a bear cub as he begins life, discovers a new world, and finds his way back home.
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Because he is far from being ready for the outside world, Little Cub spends his days growing from Mother’s milk. Eventually, the winter thaws, and Mother Bear leads Little Cub out into the world. He sees light for the first time. He learns to climb a tree. He has his first taste of termites and golden honey.
Farther and farther they wander until the only home he knows is far away. When night falls outside the cave for the first time, Little Cub watches Mother make a bed in the dirt for them. They curl up beside each other. Little Bear is home next to Mother Bear.
But since Little Cub is on a journey home that must involve a separation from home, his mother. Graham uses a devastating fire to accomplish this. When the two bears try to escape the flames, Little Cub loses track of his mother. He wanders through the ashes, crying for her. He is chased up a tree by a much bigger bear. After many hours in the tree, Little Cub climbs down, and when the stars come out he manages to dig a bed for himself. He is exhausted, afraid, and all alone. What Little Cub doesn’t realize is that while he is searching for home, home (Mother Bear) is looking for him.
Throughout the book, Graham skillfully weaves the seasons into the plot which help readers stay connected to Little Cub’s journey and growth. Some of the vocabulary seems a little advanced for younger children, but a parent’s help will remedy this. Graham’s illustrations are realistic and engaging. I was especially impressed with the spread of the aspen groves before and after the fire.
Cub’s Journey Home is a terrific book for children. Home isn’t a building; home is created by a person, especially a mother. This is something children understand, and Graham uses plot and character to demonstrate this truth. A hint for the reader — be sure to turn to the last page.
Penelope Kaye is an award-winning author and has written a monthly children’s column for a local newspaper.
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