Jasper's Story: Saving Moon Bears
by Jill Robinson and Marc Bekoff
For years Jasper, a moon bear, lived a miserable existence, held captive in a cage by bear farmers in rural China. The farmers extracted the bile from Jasper’s body and sold it to be used in traditional medicines. It’s a horrific practice and conducted on thousands of moon bears each year. But now Jasper has the chance to be free and live a life away from pain and torture. In 2000, Animals Asia, an animal welfare organization, rescued Jasper and other captive moon bears, taking them to its Moon Bear Rescue Centre. Here veterinarians attended to the bears’ wounds, hoping to give them some chance of a peaceful existence in the animal sanctuary. But after so many years of abuse Jasper’s wounds, both physical and mental, are extensive. Can Jasper mend his body and mind and finally enjoy the life he was meant to live?
- Dewey: 599.78/5
- Graphics: Full-color illustrations
- Hardcover (9781585367986): 40 pages, 10 (w) x 10 (h), © 2013, 03/01/2013
- PDF (9781627530057): 40 pages, © 2013, 04/15/2013
- Hosted ebook (9781627535618): 40 pages, © 2014, 08/15/2013
- Suggested Interest Level: Age 6 - Age 9
- Suggested Reading Level: Grade 6
- Lexile® Measure: 1210
- ATOS Reading Level: 5.6
- ATOS Interest Level: LG
- Accelerated Reader® Quiz: 158653
- Accelerated Reader® Points: 0.5
- Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, Winner, 2014
- 2014 Story Telling World Resource Award - Pre-Adolescent Listeners, Winner, 2014
- 2014 Bank Street Best Books of the Year for Children, Winner, 2014
- Paterson Prize for Books for Young People - Grades 4-6 Category, Winner, 2014
- Comstock Book Award, Commended, 2014
Midwest Book Review: "Jasper's Story: Saving Moon Bears"
Reviewed on 1 August 2013
“Jasper’s Story: Saving Moon Bears” is a magnificent true story of a valiant effort to correct terrible abuse visited upon China’s special moon bears, who are caught, cruelly caged, and used for their bear bile. The author has received multiple international awards for her work in exposing, condemning and correcting this systematic animal exploitation and abuse. With help from many others, she founded the Moon Bear Rescue Centre and Animals Asia, to have a rehabilitation facility to accept, treat, heal and shelter the terribly abused captured moon bears of China. “Jasper’s Story” tells the amazing story of one special bear who responds well to all the care and healing sanctuary of the Moon Bear Rescue Centre. Despite terrible abuse, Jasper recovers and learns to live a more normal bear life, taking on the role of helper bear to new bear admissions. “Jasper’s Story” is a story of both horrible abuse and strength, recovery and forgiveness. Beautifully illustrated by accurate paintings of moon bears both in confinement and later in rehabilitation, “Jasper’s Story” is a true tale of survival and endurance, an inspirational, educational story for both children and adults.
School Library Journal Reviews "Jasper's Story"
Reviewed on 1 May 2013
After her first encounter with the horrific practice of bear farming in China, Robinson made it her life’s work to rescue and rehabilitate as many of these abused animals as possible. She has also worked to end the cruel practice of bile extraction. Jasper’s Story tells of one moon bear and how he came to symbolize the forgiveness and trust that come with love. He had been held in a tiny cage where he could neither sit nor move nor lie down for more than 10 years. At the time of his rescue, he was both physically and emotionally battered, but through the gentle care of Robinson and her helpers, he can play and interact with other bears and humans, and seems to have forgiven the cruelties that were once inflicted upon him. He sets a courageous example for both his bear companions and for his human advocates. And through the work of Robinson, bile farming is a waning practice in Asia. Poetic language and soft-toned realistic watercolor illustrations offer a story of courage and hope. Useful as a read aloud in conjunction with animal welfare and nature studies.
A Book and A Hug Reviews "Jasper's Story"
Reviewed on 1 May 2013
“The small cages clattered and clanked and clanged as the truck made its way toward the Moon Bear Rescue Center” near Chengdu, China. This truck is carrying the precious cargo of Moon Bears who have been rescued from “horrid captive conditions” where their bile has been harvested to be used in Asian medicine.
These beautiful bears are marked with the sweep of a moon crescent across their chests. They were stolen from their peaceful world, taken by “farmers” for their bile and are now on their way to a sanctuary where they will receive desperately needed care. For these bears human beings represent “pain and cruelty.” The caregivers in the sanctuary can see the"years of anguish each bear had endured…in their physical wounds, swollen tummies, and missing paws."
One bear is especially damaged in body and in spirit. He will be named Jasper and Jasper has been treated so cruelly that the staff wonders if he will ever recover physically or in his spirit. Hanky time. Jasper begins to heal and develop trust.
This beautiful, touching story tells of the work done by the caregivers to reach Jasper physically and spiritually. This is an important story about the dignity and sanctity of our animals and the wondrous connection that they offer us to a greater presence. It’s our work to protect and cherish them and to promote understanding across cultural barriers of the damage done when we “steal” from our natural world.
Let’s hope we can do better. There is a note from Jane Goodall praising the work of Jill and her team.
Somewhere moon bears roam free and in the sanctuary Jasper has come home.
Note; This book is about moon bears but it would be an amazing book to share with any child who has known abuse. That child will feel the bond with these bears and may be inspired and encouraged to move forward in his/her own life after learning what Jasper chooses. Great bibliotherapy.
Midwest Book Review: "Jasper's Story: Saving Moon Bears"
Reviewed on 1 April 2013
Jasper’s Story: Saving Moon Bears is a children’s picturebook about the real-life troubles suffered by Asian moon bears. For fifteen long years, Jasper was confined and miserable in a cage, held by bear farmers in rural China. The bear farmers removed bile from Jasper’s body to sell as an ingredient in traditional Asian medicine, a trade that inflicted horrific cruelty to thousands of moon bears. But for Jasper and other moon bears, there is hope in Animals Asia, a non-profit that has established award-winning sanctuaries in China and Vietnam. Jasper’s Story: Saving Moon Bears is ultimate a tale of hope and forgiveness, as well as an awakening to the fact that humans are capable of changing their cruel ways. Highly recommended.
Booklist Reviews "Jasper's Story: Saving Moon Bears"
Reviewed on 15 March 2013
Get ready to wipe away a few tears after reading this. Jill Robinson has dedicated her life to rescuing the bears of China who’ve been abused by those extracting bear bile for use in traditional Asian medicines. Jasper is one of them, a moon bear, held in a tiny cage for 15 years before arriving at Robinson’s center in China, called Animals Asia. At first, he is wary, even violent, but as Robinson and her team methodically integrate him into the community, Jasper becomes the poster bear for all that can be accomplished. Eventually, he’s an ambassador to newcomer bears, touching and patting them to make them feel more comfortable. The text is a bit overwritten in the beginning, but as the book follows Jasper’s progress, it settles down to a moving narrative. The sturdy acrylic illustrations are derived from van Frankenhuyzen’s photographs taken at the sanctuary, and their tracking of Jasper’s journey to wellness captures both the effort and emotion. A final two-page-spread afterword tells more about Robinson and her work.
Author: Jill Robinson
After visiting a Chinese bear farm in 1993, Jill exposed the plight of endangered bears cruelly exploited for their bile. In 1998 she founded Animals Asia, which has established sanctuaries in China and Vietnam and made freedom possible for hundreds of bears.
For her animal welfare work Jill has received the Readers Digest Hero for Today Award, a Genesis Award from the Humane Society of the United States, and the Jean Marchig Animal Welfare Award. She is Hong Kong’s Outstanding Earth Champion, an Asia World Animal Day Ambassador, a World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies Herbal Committee council member, and a member of the Society of Woman Geographers. In 1998 Jill was named to the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) by Queen Elizabeth II, and in 2011 she was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Zurich.
Author: Marc Bekoff
Marc Bekoff is Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado. In 2000 he was awarded the Exemplar Award from the Animal Behavior Society for major contributions to the field. Marc has published more than 300 scientific and popular essays and 23 books including The Ten Trusts (with Jane Goodall); The Emotional Lives of Animals; The Animal Manifesto: Six Reasons for Expanding Our Compassion Footprint; and three encyclopedias. In addition to his own web site, Marc also works with Dr. Jane Goodall on Ethological Ethics.
Illustrator: Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen
Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen was born in the Netherlands in 1951. With his seven brothers and sisters, he grew up exploring nature and his sketch pads were filled with observations from those family outings. Always drawing as a young boy, his father encouraged Gijsbert to make art his career. After high school, he attended and graduated from the Royal Academy of Arts in Arnhem, Holland.
Gijsbert, or “Mr. Nick” as many children affectionately call him during his school visits, immigrated to the United States in 1976 and worked as Art Director for the Michigan Natural Resources Magazine for 17 years. In 1995, he illustrated his first children’s book, The Legend of Sleeping Bear, finally fullfilling his dream of illustrating children’s books.
Residing in Bath, Michigan, Nick and his family share their 40-acre farm with sheep, horses, dogs, cats, turkeys, rabbits, chickens, pigeons and a revolving door of orphaned and injured wild life. The family’s nature journals logged 20 years of wild life rehabilitation on the farm and it is through these journals that the popular Hazel Ridge series was created. The farm, the land and the animals make great subjects for the artist to paint.
Mr. Nick travels to schools and conferences to share his passion for drawing—encouraging kids to make their hobby their career.
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- Author/Illustrator biography