The Water Bears
The Water Bears
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Annotation: "With warmth and humor, Kim Baker conjures a magical tale of finding the most elusive creature of all: one's true self."... more
Catalog Number: #206977
Format: Library Binding
All Formats: Search
Special Formats: Hot Title Hot Title
Publisher: Random House
Copyright Date: 2020
Edition Date: 2020
Pages: 272
Availability: Available
New Title: Yes
ISBN: 1-9848522-1-3
ISBN 13: 978-1-9848522-1-2
Dewey: Fic
Language: English
Reviews:
Kirkus Reviews
Healing comes from unexpected places in this new middle-grade read.It's hard to stand out in an offbeat island community known for monster sightings and an eccentric artists colony, but a year after he was mauled by a bear, Newton "Newt" Gomez feels like an outsider on his island home. As friends and family try to support him in the best ways they know how, Newt just wants to escape the island and the nightmares he endures every night. Plans to transfer to middle school on the mainland, where nobody knows the story behind his scarred leg and limp, are met with disapproval, but Newt feels certain that leaving the island will give him a much-needed fresh start. His plans are complicated, however, when he befriends a mysterious newcomer and becomes embroiled in an intriguing mystery involving a taco truck and beach flotsam that might grant wishes. Further complexity is added to Newt's story by the fact that his is the only Mexican American family living in his island town, a fact that adds to his feelings of difference and fuels his desire to leave. Other characters are assumed white. Rich character building, tender relationships, and a vibrant setting tingling with magical possibility combine for a satisfying tale.Both a whimsy-soaked journey of self-discovery and a successful exploration of the tough reality of recovering from trauma. (Fiction. 9-13)
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
Healing comes from unexpected places in this new middle-grade read.It's hard to stand out in an offbeat island community known for monster sightings and an eccentric artists colony, but a year after he was mauled by a bear, Newton "Newt" Gomez feels like an outsider on his island home. As friends and family try to support him in the best ways they know how, Newt just wants to escape the island and the nightmares he endures every night. Plans to transfer to middle school on the mainland, where nobody knows the story behind his scarred leg and limp, are met with disapproval, but Newt feels certain that leaving the island will give him a much-needed fresh start. His plans are complicated, however, when he befriends a mysterious newcomer and becomes embroiled in an intriguing mystery involving a taco truck and beach flotsam that might grant wishes. Further complexity is added to Newt's story by the fact that his is the only Mexican American family living in his island town, a fact that adds to his feelings of difference and fuels his desire to leave. Other characters are assumed white. Rich character building, tender relationships, and a vibrant setting tingling with magical possibility combine for a satisfying tale.Both a whimsy-soaked journey of self-discovery and a successful exploration of the tough reality of recovering from trauma. (Fiction. 9-13)
Reading Level: 3.0
Interest Level: 2-5
Lexile: 650L

"With warmth and humor, Kim Baker conjures a magical tale of finding the most elusive creature of all: one's true self." --Kirby Larson, author of the New York Times bestseller and Newbery Honor winner Hattie Big Sky and the Audacity Jones series

A quirky, empowering story about a boy recovering from a bear attack with the help of his friends and maybe, some magic. For fans of Lemons by Melissa Savage, Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones, and The Canning Season by Polly Horvath.


Newt Gomez has a thing with bears. Last year he survived a bear attack. And this year, he finds an unusual bear statue that just might grant wishes. Newt's best friend, Ethan, notices a wishbone on the statue and decides to make a wish. When it comes true, Newt thinks it's a coincidence. Even as more people wish on the bear and their wishes come true, Newt is not convinced.

But Newt has a wish too: while he loves his home on eccentric Murphy Island, he wants to go to middle school on the mainland, where his warm extended family lives. There, he's not the only Latinx kid, he won't have to drive the former taco truck--a gift from his parents--and he won't have to perform in the talent show. Most importantly, on the mainland, he never has bad dreams about the attack. Newt is almost ready to make a secret wish when everything changes.

Tackling themes of survival and self-acceptance, Newt's story illuminates the magic in our world, where reality is often uncertain but always full of salvageable wonders.


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