Grizzly Bears: Guardians of the Wilderness

Grizzly bears are one of North America’s most iconic wildlife species. They once roamed across half the continent, but today they are gone from much of their former range. Delve into the lives of these incredible bears and the vital role that they play in the ecosystem. Learn from the work that conservation scientists, Indigenous Peoples and kids are doing to live in harmony with grizzlies and to ensure they will be with us forever.

Grizzly Bears was written especially for 9- to 12-year-olds, but will be enjoyed by bear-lovers of all ages.

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Getting the Message Across – from Grizzly Bears: Guardians of the Wilderness

Grizzly bears use sounds and body language for close-range communication. They need to be good at communicating when they come across each other so they can avoid fighting with their teeth and claws. There’s too great a risk of being injured or killed in a brawl. Good communication skills are equally important within families.

Mothers speak to their cubs with grunts and moans to warn them of dangers and give them instructions. And cubs bawl if they lose contact with their mothers.

Grizzly bears that feel threatened or stressed by the presence of another grizzly or a person express their feelings with huffs, woofs, snorts, growls or roars. Sometimes they make popping sounds with their jaws or clack their teeth.

Agitated grizzly bears also rely on facial expressions, gestures and movements to get their message across. The position of their ears, mouth, head and whole body sends important signals to any nearby bear. That bear will respond with its own body language. For example, if you are a subadult grizzly and an older male approaches you with a direct stare and a stiff-legged walk, he’s telling you to get lost. The smart response is to turn your head to one side to avoid meeting his gaze and back away—basically saying, “Hey, dude, no worries. I’m out of here.”

Official publication date: February 14, 2023. Available for pre-orders from Orca Books now.

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REVIEWS and recognition:

Canadian Review of Materials: “[A] high level of expertise, up-to-date research, thorough topic treatment and appealing presentation. … The author guides readers through the presentation of information with an easy-to-read, storytelling writing style, taking time with explanations. … Highly Recommended.” – from Dec. 2, 2022 issue.

Puget Sound Council for the Review of Children’s and Young Adult Literature: “With brilliant color photography, carefully explained vocabulary and conversational style, Backhouse’s experience as a bear researcher is well matched to the challenge of grizzly-bear conservation. … this is a well written, gloriously illustrated and timely addition to all libraries.” – from Nov. 2022 Reviews of the Month.

Junior Library Guild: A Gold Standard Selection, chosen by the JLG editorial team, which reads thousands of children’s books each year, prior to publication, to choose the best, award-worthy books for school librarians.