Although most Canadian children cannot relate to war, they can relate to a Teddy bear. That is why the World War I based picture book A Bear in War is told from the point of view of a stuffed animal. Teddy belongs to a 10 year old girl named Aileen who lives on a farm in East Farnham Quebec with her 7-year-old brother Howard. Teddy relates the everyday life of the siblings: feeding the chickens and collecting their eggs; a trip into town where they see soldier recruitment posters; a snowball fight that turns into a pretend war battle.
Then Teddy describes the night that Aileen's Daddy came to her bedroom and broke the news that he would be leaving to train as a soldier. The stuffed animal enjoys its first train ride as Aileen, Howard and their mother travel to Valcartier to visit their daddy. Once the new soldier is shipped overseas to France to fight, his children keep in contact with him by writing letters. Later Daddy ends up fighting in the trenches in Belgium. Teddy is sent to Belgium in a care package to raise Daddy's spirits; it is there that he gets to "watch the war from Daddy's front pocket". That is where he died in the Fall of 1917 with Teddy in his pocket. Found by another Canadian soldier, Teddy was shipped home to Canada to his rightful owner.
After Aileen passed away, she left Teddy and some letters in a briefcase for her children. Mr. Rogers' granddaughter, Roberta, found the briefcase and had Teddy placed in the Canadian War Musuem in Ottawa. Mr. Rogers' great-granddaughter, Stephanie Innes co-wrote A Bear in War with Harry Endrulat.
The latter author spoke at the Paris Library as part of Family Literacy Day today. After giving an informative lesson on how to write a children's picture book, Mr. Endrulat handed out autographed copies of his book. A Bear in War is laid out in scrapbook style with authentic photographs from the Rogers family. What a great way to bring Canadian history to life for our children!
Photo courtesy http://store02.prostores.com.