I was given a teddy when I was one, Mr Wilson, and I have his still although he is a bit moth-eaten now (literally) Growing up the books I read when small were filled with bears, Rupert of course, Winnie-the-Pooh, Paddington, Mary Plain, Baloo in The Jungle Book, and once we had television of course there were Yogi and Booboo and Sooty. I guess many people feel a strange association with bears because of these childhood characters, and there have been different fictional bears which have become characters independent of the books they came from… the terrifying Iorek Byrnison created by Philip Pullman for example. The opposite extreme from Iorek must be Fozzy Bear!
There used to be bears in Britain but like the wold they were hunted to extinction, although they were imported to be used in cruel entertainment such as bear-baiting, and dancing bears. Maybe there were still bears in remote parts at the time of the Norman Conquest… but probably not. Huge bears once roamed these lands, and I was lucky enough not only to see but to hold the thigh bone of a massive bear which had died about 10,000 years ago, its bones left in a cave less than a dozen miles from where I am now. It made a powerful impression on me when i held the mighty femur.
Why am I thinking of bears, teddy and otherwise? Because I have just read the next in Nevada Barr’s series of novels set in national parks in the USA, This latest one, number 9 in the series, Blood Lure is set in the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, which straddles Montana in the USA and Alberta in Canada. Anna Pigeon the park ranger heroine of these books is on assignment there, studying grizzly bears and of course she has an unexpected and dangerous encounter with a creature very different from Rupert, Winnie-the -Pooh or Mr Wilson!
Nevada Barr rights gripping and exciting novels, my favourite genre – but with her books what I enjoy almost more than the intriguing puzzle are her descriptions of places I will never visit – and in the case of this latest novel, even if anyone did visit Waterton-Glacier Park they would never be able to trek up into the higher reaches of the mountains and see what Anna Pigeon sees and is described to us.
Here is a link to the Anna Pigeon mysteries: