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A Bear, a Chance to Make Wishes, and a Story of Self-Acceptance in Intriguing Chapter Book for Young Readers

Updated on August 24, 2020
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Cindy Hewitt is a retired teacher with a passion for children's literature. Read-aloud stories add quality to a child's life experiences.

Intriguing Story of How Magical Changes in Life Can Change What We Wish For

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Magical Happenings in Life Can Change What we Wish For

Kim Baker's The Water Bears is a charming story of how wishes for a "new normal" can change with life events. I find this story to be relevant in the strange world that children find themselves in at this time in history. It has life lessons in survival and how to cope with a reality that can be full of wonderful things that can be saved.

Newt Gomez is a young Hispanic teen who lives on an island. He survived a traumatic attack by a bear the year before his thirteenth birthday. He still experiences bad dreams and must learn to cope with these dreams. He sometimes wishes that he could move to the mainland so that he could go to middle school on the mainland and not be the only Hispanic kid in school. He believes that he could escape these bad dreams if he could move to the mainland with his extended family.

School has many challenges for the new school year and a science project is the mian challenge for Newt. He discovers creatures called water bears in the tide pools around the island. The scientific name for these creatures is a Latin word for "slow walker". Newt can identify with this name because he now walks slowly after being attacked by the bear earlier. A bear statue also holds interest for Newt because there is a belief that this bear can grant wishes. Newt learns that he must be careful what he wishes for. Newt continues to study the water bears with the scientific name of tardigrades. He learns a life lesson that these little creatures can survive in a variety of environmental conditions. Newt's wishes to leave the island change because of this important lesson. His wishes change and he knows that he can be happy on the island afterall. We can all learn this lesson that the world is still a wonderful place, even in the time that we are living in.

The Water Bears was published by Random House Children's Books and is recommended for ages 8-12. It has an ISBN of 978-1-9848-5220-5.

Great read for the time that we are living in and inspirational for our children!

Bring The Water Bears Into Your Classroom for Creative Discussions and Writing Activities


Kim Baker's The Water Bears is a great choice for the time that we are living in. Our realities are not always what we wish that they were, and young readers are given the opportunity to learn this lesson with this creative story of a young teen.

Chapter books are popular for group reading in the middle grades. Students enjoy reading to each other aloud to improve their skills in reading aloud. Assign a few chapters a day for students to read.

*Assign The Water Bears as an individual reading assignment on a class reading list.

*Engage students in a discussion of a situation in their life that they wish was not there. Do they have dreams about this situation as Newt dreamed about his bear attack? How do they handle their feelings about their particular situation?

*Assign a creative writing activity to give students the opportunity to write about their situation. How do they wish that it was different?

*Do they think that Newt was right in feeling the way that he did about moving to the mainland?

*Assign a creative writing activity for students to write about wishes that they have had. Did any of the wishes come true? Did time change any of the wishes as in the story when time changed Newt's wishes?

*The water bears found in the island tide pools offer an opportunity for students to learn about these little creatures in a science study. Assign a science project for students to explore these little creatures.

*The little tardigrades helped Newt to discover a new way of thinking about the world. Engage students in a discussion of interesting or intriguing things that they have found in our world that change their thinking about their world for the better.

*Assign a creative writing project for students to write about something that has changed their thinking about their world for the better.

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