4 out of 4 stars
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Three Paws is a short children's book by Karen Struck that tells the story of a grizzly bear cub named Boots. Although an accident in the river left him with a limp paw, Boots still has big dreams to be the greatest salmon catcher in Alaska. One day, Boots comes across an injured billy goat, and he takes a chance to befriend the goat. In return, the goat offers to help Boots make his dreams come true, but now the young grizzly must face the consequences for choosing to befriend the goat.
This book was inspired by events that the author learned about during an Alaska cruise. Sometimes billy goats lose their footing and tumble down the steep cliffs of their dangerous mountain homes. Due to their injuries, they are unable to return up the mountain and become prey for larger animals such as grizzly bears. While this is essentially what happened to the poor goat in this story, Struck managed to turn a potentially tragic accident into a children's tale about compassion and friendship.
The story is accompanied by beautifully drawn illustrations that I assume the author was also responsible for, as there is no illustrator mentioned in the book's credits. I find the book even more impressive knowing that the author was responsible for the words as well as the pictures that follow along nicely with the story.
Without giving away exactly what happens at the end of the book, I have to say that I love the way it ended. There are several educational lessons about the animals in that region of the world, in addition to moral lessons that a lot of people could benefit from learning. The lessons are subtle and not shoved in your face, however, which makes the learning process much more enjoyable for children.
I give this book a rating of 4 out of 4 stars and would recommend it for parents to read to their preschool-aged children. Younger readers (first or second graders) could probably read this book independently as well; there are few enough words on the page so that hey wouldn't get frustrated, but they might need a little help with some of the less common words. Overall, I found this to be an adorable book for children, and I look forward to seeing more children's books by this author, perhaps starring Boots in a continued series of Three Paws.
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