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Polly Pecorino - Emma Chichester-Clark

Are you brave enough to enter the Wild Bear Woods?

Polly Pecorino rescues animals, and she can talk to them too. She spends all of her time caring for those at Happy Days Zoo, where the devious owners, Mr and Mrs Snell, will do anything to make money. One day they steal a bear cub, certain that he will do wonders for ticket sales, but the ferocious bears living in Wild Bear Woods want their cub back. Will Polly be brave enough to enter the woods and take Booboo, the bear cub, back where he belongs? And will the bears be happy to see her…

The story follows the adventures of Polly, a kind, caring and brave girl who lives in the village of Abbeville, under constant threat of the bears from the nearby woods.

Polly has the special power of being able to communicate with animals, and uses this to help deal with the animals that live in the Happy Days Zoo where she helps with her Uncle Stan.

When the Cruella-esque zoo owner, Mrs Snell, decides that a stolen bear cub will be the superstar attraction that solves the zoo's financial woes, it's up to Polly to try and save the day, doing the right thing and returning Booboo to his rightful home, even if it means braving the woods and coming face to face with the bears herself...

I loved Polly's determination, dedication and drive to do what's right, despite the choices being difficult and dangerous. Her encounters with the bears in the forest are both funny and touching in her attempts to find a solution to the human/bears coexistence.

The irony of the switch in captives when the bears decide to retain Mr and Mrs Snell as their own tourist attraction won't be lost on readers, and may well be thought-provoking discussion prompts for older readers looking at this story from an animal-welfare point of view...who are zoos really for...the humans or the animals?

Emma Chichester-Clark's illustrations add detail to the description and delightful additional content to the text throughout (as expected!), and the book would be an ideal read alone text for KS2 or as a read-together for younger audiences.

Themes of kindness, fairness, bravery, friendship, justice and compassion make this a great book for engaging readers in discussion around similar issues in real life, so this would be a great class text with PSHE links.

Highly enjoyable, I have no hesitation in recommending this...Polly (and the writing/plot in general) reminded me in parts of Dahl's Matilda, alongside the already mentioned 101 Dalmations Cruella-esque Mrs Snell.

Well worth a read!

Thank you to Rebacca at Walker Books for sending me a copy of this book to review and for having me on the blogtour today.

Author, Emma Chichester-Clark has her own website, where you can find out more about this and her other books.

Review by Rich Simpson (@richreadalot) September 2021

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