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Bear on the Homefront

by Stephanie Innes & Harry Endrulat
illustrated by Brian Deines

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military & wars, canada, post-confederation (1867-)
list price: $19.95
published: 2014
publisher: Pajama Press Inc.
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  • Commended, Best Books for Kids & Teens
  • Commended, Resource Links "The Year's Best"
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During World War II, nurse Aileen Rogers and her stuffed bear, Teddy, greet English "guest children" sent overseas for safety. Teddy befriends homesick, young William and his sister Grace, sharing the experience of the cross-country train ride and five years on a host family's farm. Based on real events.

During World War II, 10,000 children from British cities were sent to live with host families in Canada, the United States, and other nations away from the war zone. Bear on the Homefront tells the story of two guest children, Grace and William Chambers, who arrive in Halifax and meet Aileen Rogers, a nurse serving on the homefront. With her is Teddy, the stuffed bear whose real-life trip to the front lines of World War I and back was chronicled in A Bear in War.

Using archival images and Aileen Rogers’ wartime diary, Stephanie Innes and Harry Endrulat piece together William and Grace’s journey by train to their host family’s Winnipeg farm. Readers experience the story through Teddy’s eyes as Aileen, seeing William’s anxiety, lets her stuffed friend stay with the little boy throughout the train ride and, ultimately, throughout the war.

Brian Deines’ soulful oil paintings capture the spirit of the war years on the homefront. His expressive art communicates both the loneliness of children separated from their families and the joyful conclusion when Grace, William, and Teddy all return to their homes again.


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I watched from the pocket of Aileen's uniform as the children walked down the ramp. "Where are their mummies and daddies?" I asked. "Still overseas," Aileen said. "England is being bombed in the war, so many families have sent their children to Canada, where they'll be safe." A band started to play on the dock and some of the children sang along. "There'll always be an England, and England shall be free. If England means as much to you as England means to me." But two of the children weren't singing. They looked lost and afraid. Aileen went over and introduced herself. "My name is Grace," replied the young girl in a soft voice. "And this is brother, William. He is five." Grace pointed to me. "Who's that?" "This is Teddy," Aileen said. William peeked his head out from behind his sister.

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Editorial Review

About Bear on the Homefront

2015 Canadian Children's Book Centre Best Books for Kids & Teens selection

2014 Resource Links "The Year's Best"

"[W]ell-paced storytelling and soft, nostalgic watercolor illustrations..."—The New York Times

"Deines' warm oil paintings, suffused with light, are as tender as Teddy's tiny embrace. Child readers, in wartime or not, will give their teddies an extra, grateful squeeze."—Kirkus Reviews

"The story is touching without any hint of sentimentality. The soft, warm palette of the art is beautifully rendered in oils and adds the perfect touch to this heartwarming story."—School Library Journal

"Deines's lush oil paintings showcase the Canadian landscape...Once again, Teddy narrates the story, and his separation from Aileen tenderly mirrors the children's distance from their parents."—Publishers Weekly

"[A]n appealing look into a little-known part of WWII."—Booklist

"Poignant and tender in its writing, this picture book helps to teach today's children about real life experiences during World War II."—Resource Links Magazine

"Bear on the Homefront is an elegant book that parents and educators will enjoy sharing with young children. Highly Recommended."—CM Magazine

"Innes and Endrulat cleverly tell the story from Teddy's point of view, so the reader, like Teddy, hears Aileen’s explanations of what is going on as well as William's and Grace's secrets...Brian Deines soft atmospheric illustrations and rich colours convey an old-fashioned feel to the story."—National Reading Campaign

"The beautiful and calming illustrations by Brian Deines enhance the text and hold the reader’s attention. Bear on the Homefront is a wonderful way to introduce children to history."—Canadian Children's BookNews

"These two heartwarming stories, [A Bear in War and Bear on the Homefront], with softly coloured illustrations, will be read and appreciated by ages five to adult."—The Calgary Herald

"Bear on the Homefront, a beautifully illustrated children's book...manages to talk about war in a way that is gentle, fascinating and educational."—SavvyMom


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About the Authors

Stephanie Innes

Stephanie Innes coauthored A Bear in War and Bear on the Homefront using her great-aunt Aileen Rogers' wartime journal, photographs, hundreds of letters, and a stuffed bear named Teddy. A beloved true story that introduces young readers to war gently, A Bear in War was an OLA Silver Birch Express Honour Book and a Children's Literature Roundtables of Canada Information Book Award finalist. Stephanie lives in Tucson, Arizona, where she is the senior medical reporter for the Arizona Daily Star.
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Harry Endrulat

Writer and editor Harry Endrulat is the coauthor of A Bear in War, which was an honour book for both the OLA Silver Birch Express Award and the Children’s Literature Round­tables of Canada Information Book Award, as well as its sequel, Bear on the Homefront. Among others, he has also written numerous books for the Max & Ruby series and The Adventures of Franklin and Friends collection. Harry lives with his family in Southern Ontario.
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Brian Deines

Brian Deines is a fine artist and the illustrator of Bear on the Train. He lives in Toronto, Ontario.
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