20 May 2016


BACK COVER BLURB: Starving after a harsh winter, the bears descend from the mountains in search of food and invade the valley below, where they face fierce opposition from the army of the Grand Duke of Sicily. After many battles, scrapes and dangers, the bears reign is established over the land, but their victory comes at a price.

FIRST SENTENCE {Chapter 1}: Sit still as mice on this occasion
And listen to the Bears' Invasion
Of Sicily, a long, long while
Ago when beasts were good, men vile.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 80}: At the review, the cub Tony, still a little weak, was present, seated on an easy chair and wrapped in soft coverlets: he was able to take part in the ball, however, and, holding his father's hand, opened the grand cotillion to the strains of a polka. This was possible, as during the day he had built up his strength with puddings and beefsteaks.

SOURCE: Received for review from Alma Books.

MY THOUGHTS: Another great edition to the Children's and Young Adults' Collection from Alma Books, this one marketed at those aged nine to eleven. Not that as an older reader you should let this put you off as no matter nine (I'd advise caution in younger, perhaps more sensitive readers as whilst not outrageously so there is some peril, some of which could be considered violent, albeit it no worse than that in many fables/folk tales) or ninety years young this is a delightfully quirky read.

One of those books that can be read on more than one level. One on the one hand a simple enough story of what happens when hungry bears come down from the mountains in search of food. On the other, a fable of what happens when hungry bears come down from the mountains in search of food AND find ... 

Well, so as not to give too much away, let's just say there is a price to be paid and worryingly the bears find some of their behaviour more human-like than they might have hoped for.

Written in the nineteen forties but only recently translated into English. Everything about The Bear's Famous Invasion Of Sicily from the wonderfully witty introduction to the characters - including 'The Werewolf' who (and I quote) 'A third monster. It is possible that he may not appear in our story. In fact, as far as we know he has never appeared anywhere, but one never knows. He might suddenly appear from one moment to the next, and then how foolish we should look for not having mentioned him.' -  to the artwork (by the author himself no less) to the story itself (some of which is written in verse) had me enchanted from beginning to end.


ClaudineGueh@CarryUsOffBooks said...

I like the story premise and the snippets you shared, Tracy. Sounds good. Initially I thought the long sentences might be testing modern patience a bit, but considering it was written in the 40s, it makes sense.

Brian Joseph said...

This sounds really good. I really like the quote that you posted.

I think that the best children's stories can be read on several levels.

I also think that it is a good thing that older works like this are being translated.

Nikki-ann said...

I adore the cover of this book and the story sounds good too. Thanks for sharing it with us :)

Kelly said...

This sounds quite intriguing, on a variety of levels.

Thanks for a good review!

Mary (Bookfan) said...

I like the artwork. This sounds quite good.

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Hm... this might be something the littles i know would enjoy. Will have to tell the parentals about it. I'm not sure how sensitive they are.

Stephanie@Fairday's Blog said...

I haven't heard of this story before- but it sounds so intriguing. Glad to hear you enjoyed it so much. It is one that I will look out for! :) Thanks for sharing!

Optimistic Existentialist said...

I really love that artwork on the page inside the book :)

Melliane said...

it's nice you found another great children book

Suko said...

Tracy, this sounds enchanting! I enjoyed your wonderfully written review.

Karen Alderman said...

I love the artwork and it's nice that it still holds up and able to be enjoyed by different generations.

Karen @For What It's Worth