Rating: 5 stars
“Jasper’s Story: Saving Moon Bears” written by Jill Robinson and Marc Bekoff and illustrated by Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen is a work of art. The story is touching and the illustrations lovely. This is a wonderful picture book for older readers.
The story is about Chinese Moon Bears and about one bear in particular. Moon Bears are medium sized Asian bears who are captured and kept in small cages where their bile is extracted. They are kept in cramped cages for decades while the farmer sells the bile for use in traditional Asian medicine.
Jill Robinson, the author, first visited a Chinese bear farm in 1993 and was appalled at the conditions of the bears. She founded Animals Asia and has rescued hundred of bears who now live a life of freedom at her sanctuary.
“Jasper’s Story” is about the sanctuary, and it’s about Jasper, who was rescued from a bile farm. He arrived bone thin, and his teeth were worn down from years of chewing at the bars of his small cage. Because he was unable to move in his tiny cage, his muscles were weak and wasting away.
After surgery to fix Jasper’s many injuries, he awoke in a place where he could stand up and walk for the first time in many years. While Jasper’s body healed, he began to trust his caretakers. When the bears first arrive at the sanctuary, they are frightened and wary of humans who had done nothing but bring pain and captivity to them their whole lives. For the first time, humans are showing kindness to Jasper, but it takes a while to forget the pain and misery of the past.
The book tells the story of Jasper’s rehabilitation. After he was able to walk and go to the outside enclosure, they began to hide food to encourage him to walk and dig and use his muscles in a similar way as in the wild.
They also tried to stimulate Jasper’s mind. They played games to stimulate his curiosity. Jasper became more and more playful. In time, he became happy and strong. In fact, he has become the bear who welcomes new arrivals to the sanctuary.
This beautiful picture book is perfect for readers in second grade and up. It’s a magnificent tool for teaching children compassion for animals, and how one person can make a huge difference. If the students learn that each and every one of us can, and should, help any animals we see in danger or in pain, then it’s a lesson well learned.
Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover picture book provided by the publisher, Sleeping Bear Press, for review purposes.