Title: The Bear With The Sword
Author: Davide Cali
Illustrated by: Gianlica Foli
Published by: Wilkins Farago
Teachers Notes: Teachers Notes by Wilkins Farago (pdf)
Themes: actions and consequences, community, violence, fear, revenge, redemption, change, the environment, bullying, anger, jumping to conclusions
Often we accuse somebody or something for things which happen to us. I think this is quite stupid.
“When a flood destroys thousands houses we talk about nature out of control which kills people, but we never consider that, maybe, we too are responsible about this. When things happen we prefer to find an enemy to fight against but most of times our worst enemy is… just us.” – Davide Cali
Once upon a time there was a bear with a sword…
And this bear loved showing off his sword, often slashing at trees and things just to show off how powerful he and his sword can be.
But when his home is flooded by water and destroyed he takes his sword out in search for revenge, threatening the beavers who share their story of tragedy and pass the blame onto the pigdeer. The pigdeer passes the blame to the fox who then defers to the birds… The bear continues the search until he finds out who is responsible for the flooding of his home and when he does he will slice them open with his sword!
I don’t want to destroy the end of the story, but essentially it’s a powerful and timely story about how we all need to own up to the consequences of our own actions. That when we act out without any thought for other people, or the world there will consequences.
And when we’re put face to face with those consequences perhaps we’ll find that we’re the one’s to blame and will have to ask a number of difficult questions about who we are and who we will become, or perhaps who we’d like to be.
On a simpler and more basic level this can be seen as a redemptive story of a big bully and vandal who terrorises a community of people because he is bigger and stronger than everyone else. A story that invites the reader to believe that even the biggest bully in the forrest can change and turn from his old ways.
I always love a picture book that has unique illustrations, Gianlica’s illustrations in this book remind me of books like Unberto Eco’s “The Three Astronauts” and Davide Cali’s “The Enemy” (illustrated by Serge Bloch). His use of water colours and spray paint helps create the world of these intriguing animals, and invite us to walk along the trees and waterways of the forrest.
This is a great book that invites the reader to think about how their actions affect the world and community around them.