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Touching Spirit Bear Reprint Edition
Contributor(s): Mikaelsen, Ben

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ISBN: 038080560X     ISBN-13: 9780380805600
Publisher: Harpercollins Childrens Books
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Binding Type: Paperback - See All Available Formats & Editions
Published: May 2002

Annotation: Mikaelsen's provocative portrait of Cole, an angry teen who chooses banishment to a remote Alaskan island over detention as punishment for a brutal attack, has captivated reviewers and readers as it examines the alternative Native American Circle Justice.
Additional Information
Library of Congress Subjects:
Juvenile delinquents; Rehabilitation; Fiction.
Anger; Fiction.
Forgiveness; Fiction.
BISAC Categories:
- Juvenile Fiction | Animals | Bears
- Juvenile Fiction | Social Issues | Violence
- Juvenile Fiction | Social Issues | Emotions & Feelings
Dewey: [Fic]
LCCN: BL2002004633
Lexile Measure: 670
Academic/Grade Level: Grade 4-6, Age 9-11
Book type: Juvenile Fiction
Physical Information: 7.75" H x 5.25" W x 0.50" (0.40 lbs) 241 pages
Accelerated Reader Info
Quiz #: 45132
Reading Level: 5.3   Interest Level: Middle Grades   Point Value: 9.0
Scholastic Reading Counts Info
Quiz #: Q24247
Reading Level: 5.4   Interest Level: Grades 6-8   Point Value: 14.0
Descriptions, Reviews, Etc.
Publisher Description:
Within Cole Matthews lie anger, rage and hate. Cole has been stealing and fighting for years. This time he caught Alex Driscal in the, parking lot and smashed his head against the sidewalk. Now, Alex may have permanent brain damage'and Cole is in the Biggest trouble of his life.

Cole is offered Circle Justice: a system based on Native American traditions that attempts to provide healing for the criminal offender, the victim and the, community. With prison as his only alternative, Cole plays along. He says he wants to repent, but in his heart Cole blames his alcoholic mom his, abusive dad, wimpy Alex -- everyone but himself -- for his situation.

Cole receives a one-year banishment to a remote Alaskan island. There, he is mauled by Mysterious white bear of Native American legend. Hideously injured, Cole waits for his death His thoughts shift from from Anger to humility. To survive, he must stop blaming others and take responsibility for his life. Rescuers arrive to save Cole's but it is the attack of the Spirit Bear that may save his soul.

Ben Mikaelsen paints a vivid picture of a juvenile offender, examining the roots without absolving solving him of responsibility for his actions, and questioning a society in which angry people make victims of their peers and communities. Touching Spirit Bear is a poignant testimonial to the power of a pain that can destroy, or lead to healing

Reviewed by Horn Book Guide Reviews (Horn Book Guide Reviews 2001 Fall)
After brutally beating a schoolmate, Cole Matthews is sent to live by himself on a remote Alaskan island as part of a ""Circle Justice"" offender program. The self-pitying teenager takes part in Native American rituals (though he's white) and, in an unlikely scenario, aids in the recovery of the now-suicidal victim of his violence. The characters, dialogue, and message are all presented with a heavy hand. Copyright 2001 Horn Book Guide Reviews

Reviewed by School Library Journal Reviews (SLJ Reviews 2001 February)
Gr 7 Up-Cole Matthews is a violent teen offender convicted of viciously beating a classmate, Peter, causing neurological and psychological problems. Cole elects to participate in Circle Justice, an alternative sentencing program based on traditional Native American practices that results in his being banished to a remote Alaskan Island where he is left to survive for a year. Cynical and street smart, he expects to fake his way through the preliminaries, escape by swimming off the island, and beat the system, again. But his encounter with the Spirit Bear of the title leaves him desperately wounded and gives him six months of hospitalization to reconsider his options. Mikaelsen's portrayal of this angry, manipulative, damaged teen is dead on. Cole's gradual transformation into a human kind of being happens in fits and starts. He realizes he must accept responsibility for what he has done, but his pride, pain, and conditioning continue to interfere. He learns that his anger may never be gone, but that he can learn to control it. The author concedes in a note that the culminating plot element, in which Peter joins Cole on the island so that both can learn to heal, is unlikely. But it sure works well as an adventure story with strong moral underpinnings. Gross details about Cole eating raw worms, a mouse, and worse will appeal to fans of the outdoor adventure/survival genre, while the truth of the Japanese proverb cited in the frontispiece, "Fall seven times, stand up eight" is fully and effectively realized.-Joel Shoemaker, Southeast Junior High School, Iowa City, IA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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