” … Jasper slowly ventured to the outside enclosure and then onto the grass for the very first time. His first step upon the grass would also be his first step on a path to living as normally as possible. But there was still a great deal of work to do.”
Jasper’s Story: Saving Moon Bears by Jill Robinson and Marc Bekoff (2013, grades 2-6) tells the story of Jasper, a moon bear who was kidnapped and held in captivity for 15 years, immobilized in a tiny cage, while his bile was extracted for herbal use. It tells of his rescue and recovery thanks to Jill Robinson of Animals Asia and the Moon Bear Rescue Centre in Chendu, China. Having overcome brutal treatment, Jasper becomes a symbol of courage and forgiveness and an ambassador for other rescued moon bears.
Although Jasper’s Story addresses a difficult subject, the issue in both the story and illustrations is handled in a way that will inform and inspire, rather than traumatize. It sheds light on the ways in which humans can cause great harm, but also on the many people who work tirelessly to make a positive difference.
For younger children, this is a great story about courage, kindness, forgiveness, and helping animals. For older students it can serve as a useful springboard for exploring our inconsistent relationships with nonhuman animals and the many ways in which we justify exploiting and harming them — as well as the many ways in which we can protect and help them.
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