Seekers: The Quest Begins (a Review)

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Seekers: The Quest Begins (a review)

When I was teaching 6th grade Language Arts, I had a few students who were real super-readers.  I remember talking to a couple of the boys about Erin Hunter’s Warriors series.  “It’s about cats?” I asked them.  “Really?”  They assured me that they were awesome cats with cool powers and such.  Still, I could never quite bring myself to dive into that particular series because, well, I don’t like cats. Luckily, Hunter has also written a series about bears, and when I was perusing the aisles of my local library last month, the first book in the Seekers series, The Quest Begins (2008, Harper Collins), caught my attention.

The Quest Begins is about three bear cubs – a polar bear, a black bear, and a grizzly bear – who each set out on a journey alone.  Each faces a significant trial that separates them from their mother, and each accepts and faces that challenge differently. I did really like the characterization of this book.  Each cub has a very different personality, but each of them are courageous.

  • Kallik, the polar bear, is willing to look up to other bears and ask for much needed help from other bears after her mother is killed, although she only gets it grudgingly.
  • Lusa, the black bear, learns all she can, but then she bucks authority to make her own decisions and set her own path to leave her zoo home in order to keep a promise to a friend.
  • Toklo, the grizzly bear, sets off alone and fiercely independent after his brother dies and his mother abandons him.

Because the bears are journeying separately in this book, the chapters rotate telling each bear’s story.  While I can tell from the map given at the beginning of the book that they will eventually travel together, it doesn’t happen in the first volume.  There isn’t a common goal among them yet, and this (while frustrating me) draws me necessarily into the second volume.

The anthropomorphism of this book is very interesting.  The bears can communicate to each other, but not to other animals.  They have myths of how things in their world came to be, legends of bear that have gone before, and an almost religious understanding of  what happens to the spirits of bears when they die.  Each bear cub becomes intimately acquainted with death in his or her story.  I love how each group of bears has a different, yet similar, mythology.

Another interesting facet of this book is the bears’ interactions with humans – “no-claws” or “flat-faces” as they are called – and with their world.  Hunter does not overtly portray global warming or other environmental catastrophes, but it is important to realize that interaction with the human world is the great angst of the natural world in this era.  It is the backdrop of the struggles that Kallik, Lusa, and Toklo face.

When I drop this book off, I’ll definitely pick up Great Bear Lake, volume two in the series, so I can find out what brings the bears together and what compels them onward.  I would heartily recommend The Quest Begins to any animal-loving middle grade student!

About Emily Falke

Emily is a wife, a mother, and a former middle school English teacher. She is a graduate of the Teachers Academy Summer Institute program at The Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture and believes that literature is for everyone. As well as reading and writing, she loves to knit, bake bread, practice yoga, and spend time with her family in the great outdoors. You can find out more about Emily by reading her blog or connecting with her on Pinterest and Instagram.

Comments

  1. My nephew loves the Warrior Cats series, and he’s tried telling me all about them. I felt the same way you did. haha. I’m sure he will like this bear series, too. Thanks for the heads up. I like to stay cool in my nephew’s eyes.

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