Ben Mikaelsen is the winner of the International Reading Association Award and the Western Writers of America Spur Award. His novels have been nominated for and won many state reader's choice awards. These novels include Red Midnight, Rescue Josh McGuire, Sparrow Hawk Red, Stranded, Countdown, Petey, and Tree Girl. Ben's articles and photos appear in numerous magazines around the world. Ben lives near Bozeman, Montana, with his 700-pound black bear, Buffy.
Gr 6-10-Ben Mikaelsen's sequel (2008) to Touching Spirit Bear (2001, both HarperCollins) unfolds in the streets of Minneapolis and in the halls of Cole's old high school. In the previous novel, Cole entered a program based on Native American traditions, and is sent to a remote Alaskan island, rather than to prison, for severely beating a classmate, Peter. While eventually realizing that he must take responsibility for his actions and learning to survive in the wilderness, he is mauled by Spirit Bear. Now, a reformed Cole, 17, and Peter, who is now his best friend, must face the harsh realities of inner city life replete with gangs, violence, and bullying. In an attempt to cope, the boys try unsuccessfully to recreate tasks they used on the island to gain inner peace, such as sitting in the freezer locker of the local grocery store to symbolize swimming in a frozen pond to focus their lives, but to no avail. The old familiar rage begins to haunt Cole as Peter is bullied and beaten by classmates and gang members. The suicide of a bullied classmate drives the pair to seek the help of the principal to let them try and heal the student body using the same techniques used by Cole's Tlingit mentor. Going to court to change the school mascot from a snarling, fighting bulldog to a spirit bear like the one that had healed Cole and Peter on the island resolves the conflict in one convenient fell swoop. Jason Harris's excellent portrayal of each main character deftly conveys the depths of teenage angst, confusion, pain, and fear while maintaining the tension and gritty mood of the novel.-Beverly S. Almond, East Lee Middle School, Sanford, NC Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
"Gripping and fast moving."--KLIATT
"Mikaelsen provides a seamless transition between the two stories, as well as a highly satisfying resolution, and readers will find that, despite the new setting, this novel is just as much a survival story as its predecessor."--ALA Booklist