Soldier Bear is the tale of Polish soldiers in WWII who adopt a baby bear. The soldiers had been prisoners in Russia; when they were released the went to the Middle East as a transport company. One day they came across a young boy with a bear cub in a sack. They traded food for the cub and he became Private Voytek, their mascot. The soldiers raised Voytek and the entire company came to love him. Voytek was almost human in the way he acted. He helped the soldiers carry things and always wanted to go where they went. Voytek traveled with the company through the Middle East to Italy and after the war to Scotland. This is based on true events and the book contains actual photos of Voytek and the soldiers. This book is also the recipient of the 2012 Batchelder Award.
This story is a little unusual but it was an interesting read. I found Voytek to be such a fun character. He was really human in his adventures. He helped the company (he helped unload ammunition) and he seemed to have human reactions. he loved beer and cigarettes, which I thought was hilarious. I especially enjoyed his friendship with the dalmatian and his rivalry with the monkey Kasha. This was translated from Dutch and I think the translation is pretty good. My only comment is that it read like a translation and not like original text. At some times the text was a little stilted and didn’t seem to flow as well as I thought it would. But it was still a fun, quick read.