Sunday, January 23, 2011

Children's Book Monday

Polar the Titanic Bear
written by Daisy Corning Stone Spedden
illustrated by Laurie McGaw

I found it on a shelf clumped with other seasonal books and slipped it into our bag between Henry and Mudge and Mr. Putter and Tabby.  I selected it for Owen who loves bears. The words "A True Story" were especially intriguing to me, but when we got home, it found its place in the book basket and  lost itself among the contents.  By the time someone selected it to read a week later, I had forgotten it was even there. 

I was expecting a cutesy story of a teddy bear, but did not imagine the rich text and history hiding between the pages. Titanic survivor, Daisy Corning Stone Spedden, wrote the text for her son Douglas in 1913 , but the story ended up buried in a trunk amongst family papers and keepsakes.  A relative discovered the manuscript in the 1990s and had it published.

As young Douglas must have been almost 100 years ago, my oldest children especially were captivated by the story of this wealthy family (and beloved bear) who were voyagers on the Titanic.  As this book was a bit longer than a typical picture book, we read only half before taking a lunch break and sandwiches were scarfed down in anticipation of the continuation of the story.  When we finished, they talked for days about the Titanic and wanted to see pictures of the Titanic wreckage.  Their Daddy brought them a non-fiction book from the library and pored over it at it while I read aloud other books. 

I regularly scour the internet for picture book suggestions and so when I found this one and had never heard of it, much less read of its wonderful-ness, I wasn't anticipating such a well-written, engaging, all-around entertaining tale...and I certainly never imagined how it would take over their thinking and their play.

Perhaps the best part of the book to me was that along with the color illustrations, the pages were brimming with black and white photographs of the Spedden family and young Douglas's nurse.  There are photos of exotic destinations, photos of the Titanic, and photos of the actual polar (teddy) bear that journeyed with the family.  I surely looked odd as I stopped to hold the book up close to my face to view a photo more closely, but I so enjoyed my window into another time.


Elise has taken a short break from her blog and Children's Book Monday, but you can still browse her archived suggestions by clicking here.


  1. Oh thanks for the review!! Erin loves learning/hearing about the Titanic so this will be perfect. Can't wait to get it out of the library!!!

  2. A true "living book"! Thank you for sharing your fabulous find with us!


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