Moon Bear by Brenda Z. Guiberson, illustrated by Ed Young
“Who blinks in the sunlight / that peeks through the Himalayas?” … thus begins a year in the life of a moon bear – named for their distinctive crescent-shaped mark on their chest – otherwise known as an Asiatic black bear. An endangered species that is fast disappearing from the wild, too many are found trapped on ‘bear farms,’ where they “spend their entire lives in tiny cages … unable to stand up or move around,” writes author Brenda Z. Guiberson in the “Author’s Note.”
The moon bear in this story thankfully roams the Himalayas, feeding on birch tree sap, new bamboo shoots, and raspberries. In her vast wanderings, she is careful to avoid the poachers and loggers in the lowlands, and prepares for her next hibernation.
While the story is heartfelt and adventurous –especially for the youngest readers – the highlight of this title is, no surprise, the visual splendor of master illustrator Ed Young’s multimedia collage illustrations of the moon bear’s journey. That cover alone with the almost-prayerful moon bear gazing upward, with such trusting eyes … you need to hold the book in your own hands to behold the glory and depth of Young’s always memorable, gorgeous art.