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Finding Bear by Hannah Gold – Review

Finding Bear by Hannah Gold
Book cover of Finding Bear by Hannah Gold

Sometimes a book is so full of love and warmth that it wraps itself around your heart and never lets go. That’s exactly what Hannah Gold achieved with her bestselling debut, The Last Bear; a ROARING success of a book. Now she’s done it again with the release of Finding Bear, a sequel that’s just as special.

Finding Bear is an emotional rollercoaster, packed full of love, caring, bravery, courage, determination, perseverance, the permission to be different, and a rallying ROAR CRY to tackle the climate crisis and create a better world. It’s a wonderful story wrapped in a beautiful cover, with stunning illustrations by Levi Pinfold. This is storytelling done right. This is cli-fi (climate fiction) done masterfully. This is a modern-day classic that I believe can change the world.

The story picks up seventeen months after The Last Bear. April Wood has started a new school, but is struggling to fit in – a challenge that anyone who has ever moved to a new place will resonate with. Her father has started dating a new woman, Maria, leaving her feeling even more isolated and lonely. But one night she has a dream. A dream of Bear roaring and calling for her help. As it turns out, that dream was more real than she could’ve imagined, as she discovers that a polar bear has been shot on Svalbard, and Tör (April’s friend from the previous book) believes it’s Bear.

So begins an adventure that sees April and her father travel to Svalbard, reunite with Tör and set-off with Hedda to see if Bear needs help. The journey introduces us to baby Bear (Peanut!) and a race against time to save him. We travel through the harsh unforgiving Arctic landscape, with the northern lights dancing overhead, across fjords and through unforgiving blizzards, testing April to her limits.

“How far would you go for love?” asks the question on the book cover. That’s the question April answers through her actions.

“As she breathed, she realised something both profound and simple at the same time. She was not just a child. She was made of the stars, the light, the very breath of the universe. And the universe shines bright within us all.”

Finding Bear and cli-fi

Finding Bear and The Last Bear are my top two cli-fi books of all time. There are many cli-fi themes running through Finding Bear, a selection of which are discussed below.

The Last Bear and Finding Bear by Hannah Gold
Stunning books side by side… The Last Bear and Finding Bear by Hannah Gold

The protagonist, April Wood, represents the younger generations who’ve had the climate and ecological crises thrust upon their shoulders. They are leading the way in calling for climate action, as seen by Greta Thunberg and Friday’s for Future. Bear is symbolic not just of polar bears who are often the face of the climate emergency, but also of the natural world that is crying out for humans to change their ways and to stop destroying our single finite home. Finding Bear talks about how our actions aren’t proportionate to the scale of the issue, and how we’re not doing enough or fast enough. Vegan restaurants, solar-powered jet-skis and eco-lodges also cleverly talk about the future that we’re moving towards.

As someone who’s been part of the climate movement for 14 years, it’s often a challenge to explain to people what we’re going through and the burden this has put us under. So, it was quite touching to see Tör talking about the goals most people have, and how big April’s goals are in comparison; “But your dreams, April. You dream of saving the world. That’s what makes you different. That’s what makes you extraordinary.”

In fact Tör’s wisdom also extends to the key topic of leadership. We are unfortunate in that we have politicians in charge, who only play politics. When what we need, and what this moment requires, are real leaders who’re prepared to tackle the multiple crises we face:

  • “’The human race is like the huksy pack,’ Tör said, indicating the slumbering dogs a few metres away with Finnegan, the lead dog, in their centre. ‘It needs leaders. People to look up to. People to follow. You’re that person April.’”
  • “They’re scared by someone standing up for what they believe in. Most people don’t stand up for their beliefs. They just find it easier to bully someone who does.”
  • “’You might not be the tallest, or have the loudest voice, but you lead with your heart. And that’s the best way to lead. It’s the only way to lead,’ he said. ‘A real leader has the courage to speak up for change even if other people disagree.’”

In the epilogue, we also learn that April’s dad and Maria, alongside Jurgen will be educating groups of schoolchildren about the climate crisis and will provide them with, “the tools to return home and be an activist for change.” That’s exactly what the world needs right now.

Another crucial point comes from the Author’s Note section, where Hannah writes that, “Since writing The Last Bear I have come to believe that true global change cannot be possible without massive government reform or big corporation change. It is not our children’s responsibility to try to correct the mistakes of today… without grassroots activism and pressure on those who pass damaging climate policies, nothing will ever change.”

She is absolutely correct – we need big structural and regulatory changes, and these can only come from governments. We have a trifecta holding up climate action comprised of politicians, the media, and fossil fuel companies. It’s up to all of us to become engaged democratic citizens to overcome these barriers. That will only happen if we work together.

Leading the charge with cli-fi

Hannah Gold has shifted cli-fi into the mainstream with her wonderful, bestselling and award-winning books. Cli-fi’s awards’ cabinet has also grown bigger thanks to The Last Bear which scooped numerous awards, including:

  • Winner of the 2022 Blue Peter Book Award for Best Story
  • Winner of the 2022 Waterstones Children’s Book Prize
  • Nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal
  • Shortlisted for Children’s Fiction Book of the Year at The British Book Awards 2022
  • Shortlisted for the Indie Book Awards 2022
  • Saturday & Sunday Times Children’s Book of the Week
  • Biggest hardback debut of 2021

While Hannah’s eco-fiction book The Lost Whale, picked up awards including:

  • Winner of the Edward Stanford Children’s Book of the Year 2023
  • Shortlisted for Indie Book Awards 2023

The world feels really broken these days, and it’s quite easy to give in to despair. But Finding Bear ultimately asks us to dig deep and to keep up the fight. A better world is possible. We can win this battle if we come together, as I mentioned in my last post.

As many experts now agree, I believe we need to be on a war-footing to tackle the climate and ecological crises. So, consider this an enlistment call. You are needed more than you imagine. If we unite under one ROAR CRY, we can win this war and create a fairer, safer, and greener world for future generations.

See you on the battlefield. 

My new cli-fi children’s picture book, Nanook and the Melting Arctic is available from Amazon’s global stores including Amazon UK and Amazon US. My eco-fiction children’s picture book, Hedgey-A and the Honey Bees about how pesticides affect bees, is available on Amazon’s global stores including Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Published inBook ReviewsCli-FiReviews