“The first time you see a spirit bear it’s mind-blowing, really. I knew sooner or later I was going to see one. You’re waiting and then you know, finally when you do, you don’t even bother recording because it’s like, ‘No, no, this is my moment. I am going to see them a lot, and this is just for me.’ It’s awesome.”

~ Tim Archer.

Tim Archer is a sound designer and the man who was in charge of capturing the sounds of the Great Bear Rainforest during the three-year film shoot of the IMAX film of the same name.

The spirit bear, once called the ghost bear or the white bear, is one of the rarest bear species in the world and is only found in Great Bear Rainforest. The Spirit bear is not an albino nor a polar bear but rather a black bear with a recessive gene. A spirit bear can be born from a black bear mother and can have a black bear cub sibling.

According to Ian McAllister, who created the IMAX film and wrote its accompanying book Great Bear Rainforest a Giant-Screen Adventure in the Land of the Spirit Bear ($29.95, Orca Book Publishers) “some scientists think the spirit bear’s white colour is an advantage when fishing.” If a salmon looks up from the water, it is more likely to see a black bear then a white one.

The spirit bear is not the only unique creature in this rainforest. Coastal wolves, or sea wolves as they are also known, are smaller than their mainland cousins and they swim – 13 kilometres in a day. The area is also known for humpback whales, spawning herring and salmon and Steller sea lions, which use their jaws to explore the underwater, including divers’ heads, as we learn in this book.

Great Bear Rainforest a Giant-Screen Adventure in the Land of the Spirit Bear talks about the making of the IMAX movie, the people who helped make it a reality as well as the First Nations’ protectors of these remote part of Canada.

I found the book incredibly interesting and read it from cover to cover. The amount of work that went into making this movie and the length of time it took to get the shots is pretty amazing. The picture are spectacular and I love all the behind-the-scenes information. Below is the trailer for the IMAX movie, which is currently playing at the Ontario Science Centre, and on screens in British Columbia.

Now that I have read the book, I appreciate this film even more.

Congratulations to all involved.

Illustration of a boy sitting under a tree reading and his shadow is that of a bear.
A Voice for the Spirit Bears tells that true story of how Simon Jackson gave a voice to Canada’s spirit bears.

A Voice for the Spirit Bears

In A Voice for the Spirit Bears, How One Boy Inspired Millions to Save a Rare Animal ($18.99, Citizen Kid, Kids Can Press), author Carmen Oliver shares the true story of Simon Jackson who used his voice to raise awareness about the Great Bear Rainforest, the home of the rare spirit bear.

In the book we learn Simon, who stuttered and because of that was bullied by his classmates and took to hiding in the bathroom to eat lunch by himself, decided he needed to protect these beautiful creatures that lived a couple hours from his home. He went to classroom to classroom in his school to talk about the bears and encourage his classmates to help in the form of letters written to government. The following year he created the Spirit Bear Youth Coalition to encourage youth from around the world to save these bears and their home. Eventually, Simon joined a team of researchers who visited the Great Bear Rainforest and came face to face with a spirit bear.

At the end of the book we get to learn more about the real Simon Jackson including what he is doing now: sharing stories and photographs through Ghost Bear Institute and running Nature Labs, a virtual classroom. The book also talks about the Spirit bears and how kids can use their voice to make a difference.

I liked how the book showed how Simon made a difference and as such worked harder to ensure his voice, and voice of other children, were heard. I also like that the book shows kids they, too, can make a difference if they are willing to use their voice to stand up for others.

A copy of these books were provided by Orca Books and Kids Can Press
for an honest review. The opinions are my own.