Item description for The Deliverance of Dancing Bears (Aspca Henry Bergh Children's Book Awards (Awards)) by Elizabeth Stanley...
In her cage, the dancing bear dreams of a life of freedom. Instead, she is chained and forced to dance in the village square each day until a kind old man makes her dream a reality. The simple text is accompanied by beautiful color drawings to enable the reader to appreciate the culture and landscape surrounding the dancing bears.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 11.3" Width: 8.9" Height: 0.5" Weight: 1.05 lbs.
Publisher Kane/Miller Book Publishers
ISBN 1929132417 ISBN13 9781929132416
Reviews - What do customers think about The Deliverance of Dancing Bears (Aspca Henry Bergh Children's Book Awards (Awards))?
An original and involving parable Sep 12, 2003
Named an honor book of The Children's Book Council of Australia, The Deliverance Of Dancing Bears is a wonderful picture book story written by Elizabeth Stanley for young readers having intermediate level reading skills. This very highly recommended account is about a captive bear who forced to dance, and who clings to hope, even though the degradations of her daily life cause her spirit to ebb. It is a kind-hearted peasant who liberates the bear and who reminds all of those watching of an important moral lesson about dignity and life. Elizabeth Stanley's touching and emotional color artwork highlights and enhances her original and involving parable.
The Deliverance of Dancing Bears Jun 19, 2000
"The Deliverance of Dancing Bears" tells the story ofan unnamed bear that is taken every day by its "owner" to amarket square in a mountain village of eastern Turkey and set to dance on its hind legs for hours. Elizabeth Stanley's prose makes clear to young readers that this is not really dancing. "Around and around the poor bear turned on her two back legs, her head pulled from side to side by the chain which Haluk jangled to the clatter of his tambourine... The performance continued relentlessly for many hours until day began to fade [and] Haluk led the bear back to her cage and lock[ed] the door." Stanley's pastel illustrations in purple, blue, gold, scarlet and indigo evoke the liveliness of Turkish village life as people go about their ordinary business of shopping, eating and paying the bearkeeper to see dancing bear. The overall effect of these village scenes, however, is depressing. The heavily textured paper to which the pastels are applied seems to drain the light out of these sad market scenes, in which no-one seems to smile.
The power of the book, however, comes from the scenes that depict the dreams of the chained bear. The scenes that show her fishing in mountain streams with her mate or lying lazily with her babies in the sun are full of shimmering light and vibrant energy.
And thankfully, the bear's dreams come true. An old man named Yusuf buys the bear from Haluk, takes it with him to his house by a stream and slowly reintroduces it to the wild. And that is just the beginning of this eloquently written and superbly illustrated book dedicated to relieving the suffering of captive bears.
Stanley saw her first "dancing bear" in 1979 in Athens and decided then to write a book to challenge the assumption that men could cruelly use wild animals to make money. In 1992 she took her written text to Turkey to take photos and to make sketches for the artwork. In the same year The World Society for the Protection of Animals effected the release and the return to the wild of all chained bears in Turkey. Today there are no dancing bears in Greece or Turkey.
But a recent WISPA report has revealed that the trade in dancing bears is still alive and well in India. It says that "60-70% of cubs taken from the wild die before they even begin their brutal training. Dehydration, starvation and trauma are all reasons [for their dying]. Should the cub be lucky enough to live, a punishing regime of starvation and beating will begin to condition it to perform. The piercing of the cub's sensitive muzzle with a rope for control is the next ordeal. It is held down without anaesthetic while a crude iron needle is heated in a coal fire and plunged in with a group of men holding the squealing cub tight. The investigators also found that the site of the nose piercing was invariably infected in all the seventeen cases observed. 'The cub would the have to suffer a second piercing before the first was healed, compounding his agony,' explained Geete Seshamani. 'The tug of this rope, along with an intense fear of the strike of a heavy stick, motivates the bear to lift its legs in turn and 'dance'.'"
The WISPA site also provides gory and even more gruesome details of bearbaiting in Pakistan and of the farming of bears for bear bile in China.
WISPA has done and will continue to provide facts about animal mistreatment and about campaigns and projects to challenge these abuses. Whilst it is important for the thinking public to have access to information like that on the WISPA site, I believe that Elizabeth Stanley's "The Deliverance of Dancing Bears" is one of the best books for introducing pre-school, elementary and junior high school aged children to these issues.
While not so sparsely written as Anthony Browne's "Gorilla", the prose is tight. The illustrations are similar to and as powerful as those in Brian Wildsmith's animal books. The interleaving of reality and dream is reminiscent of Shirley Hughes' "Stay Away from the Water Shirley" or of the more recently published "Magic Beach" by Alison Lester. All in all, this is an ideal book to get the young and the not-so-young thinking about animal rights issues. It is a beautiful book that can help us all to realise the epigraph that Stanley has taken from Aristotle: "Hope is a waking dream."