ISBN-10: 1-57061-543-8 & ISBN-13: 978-157061-543-6. “Winston of Churchill – One Bear’s Battle Against Global Warming” was written by Jean Davies Okimoto and illustrated by Jeremiah Trammel. This 32 page hardback book was published by Sasquatch Books in 2007. For ages 6 and up. The dust cover bristles with no less than FIVE testimonials from the likes of The Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth. It also boasts a “Green Earth Book Award” from the “Newton Marasco Foundation” (don’t ask). So loads of ‘green’ credentials for this little book about – well, yeah, there’s the first problem – polar bears. The “Churchill” of the title is on the shores of Hudson Bay north of Winnipeg in Canada. Notwithstanding the actual place name the author has also taken to giving her lead polar bear character all of the characteristics of Britain’s famous wartime leader. The story goes like this: Winston lives in the Canadian province of Manitoba…..
He has all the leadership potential of the real Sir Winston Churchill. He calls the bears together to talk about the loss of their homes due to melting ice. He gives a speech ending in “We shall fight on the beaches. We shall fight on the landing grounds. We shall fight in the fields and in the streets. We shall fight on the hills. We shall never surrender.” Winston blames the warming on people with their cars and the deforestation of the area.
To explain it all he passes out a little booklet he wrote on global warming. In it he details the greenhouse effect caused by carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. Clearly people need to burn less fossil fuels, make less waste and plant more trees. So he plans a protest march against the tourists who come to the area. All the bears agree apart from Winston’s wife. She won’t go unless he agrees to give up his cigars. So, next day (and after Winston starts chewing on a stick rather than a cigar) the tourists are greeted by a protest march of polar bears….. That’s it…. Hardly very profound. No doubt many small children will find it appealing but how many of them get the jokes about Sir Winston Churchill? How many will find that really influential and memorable at the age of six? This book has pretty pictures but a dumb story. We don’t need protest marches or cartoon polar bears. Most polar bear populations have yet to suffer at all due to climate change. This is just a massive cliché and doesn’t really help a great deal. Better luck next time.