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Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen Large white bear image

This treasure hunt is designed for 9th graders and was developed by Ann Salt. Follow the links below to find out more about this excellent novel for young adults.

Cole Matthews is angry. Angry, defiant, smug--in short, a bully. His anger has taken him too far this time, though. After beating up a ninth-grade classmate to the point of brain damage, Cole is facing a prison sentence. But then a Tlingit Indian parole officer named Garvey enters his life, offering an alternative called Circle Justice, based on Native American traditions. Privately, Cole sneers at the concept, but he's no fool--if it gets him out of prison, he'll do anything. Ultimately, Cole ends up banished for one year to a remote Alaskan island, where his arrogance sets him directly in the path of a mysterious, legendary white bear. Mauled almost to death, Cole awaits his fate and begins the transition from anger to humility. (From the editorial review on Amazon.com)

Before reading the book

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After reading Chapters 1-4

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After reading Chapters 5-13

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After reading Chapters 14-25

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After reading Chapters 26-28

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Look at the following web sites about author Ben Mikaelsen and answer the following questions:


1. What unique pet does Mr. Mikaelsen have?
2. What is the title of another of his novels?
3. What is one piece of advice Ben Mikaelsen gives young writers?
4. Where do Mr. Mikaelsen and his wife live now?
5. Where was he born?

http://www.kidsbookshelf.com/spotlightbm.asp
http://www.benmikaelsen.com/about_ben.htm
http://www.harpercollins.com/catalog/author_xml.asp?AuthorId=15406

After reading chapters 1-4

Look at the sites below to find out about brain damage, bullying and child abuse.

6. In this book, Cole is in trouble for beating a boy till the boy sustained serious injury, even to his brain. Check out this site and find out about what a victim impact statement is and write one for the character in the book whom Cole beat.

http://www.masters.ab.ca/bdyck/Justice/Web%20page/Impact/index.html

7. According to this study, what fraction of youth have been involved in bullying?

http://www.biausa.org/word.files.to.pdf/good.pdfs/school.violence.pdf


8. Read about circle justice on the following site. If you were a victim of a crime, would you be willing to participate in such a program? Why or why not?

http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/Pages/gnnmwregion.html#sntc_circles

9. Cole’s behavior was, as he learned, his own responsibility. But, he got into the cycle through abuse at home. Which of these sites would be a good place to go to find a number if you knew a child who was being abused?

10. What is the hotline for calling to report abuse in Wisconsin?

http://www.therapistfinder.net/help/childhelp.html
http://www.kidsafe-caps.org/other.html

After reading chapters 5-13

Explore the world of spirit bears and find out helpful information about survival in the wilderness below.

11. The author chooses to make the presence of the spirit bear rather vague. So, the reader never knows if it is real, imagined or somehow supernatural. Examine the following sites and explain how spirit bears are defined scientifically.

http://espn.go.com/outdoors/conservation/news/2002/0827/1423591.html
http://www.spiritbearyouth.org/biology.php
http://www.savespiritbear.org/about_bear/science_info.html

Survival:
12. Bears are one kind of wildlife a person should be aware of when traveling in Alaska. Cole certainly learned that in this book. According to the Alaska Park Service, what are three of the other wildlife concerns?

http://www.dnr.state.ak.us/parks/safety/comsense.htm

After reading Chapters 14-25

Much of this book deals with anger. Use the following sites to learn more about this complex emotion.

13. Cole learns to deal with his anger in many ways, from soaking in the cold water, to dancing to carrying a rock up a hill. The following sites give many suggestions to deal with anger. What is one piece of advice you read here that you think would be helpful in managing anger?

http://www.soundfeelings.com/free/anger.htm
http://www.angermgmt.com/techniques.html
http://www.healthyplace.com/Communities/Abuse/Site/transcripts/anger_management.htm

After reading Chapters 26-28

Now that you have finished reading the book, you will be able to synthesize and use the information in it.


14. Find the link on this page to “Heroes of Forgiveness.” Which hero’s story is most powerful to you? What did this hero do that made forgiveness possible?

http://www.forgivenessday.org/

Take a look at some of the following sites and learn more about the Tlingit people.

15. What is one thing Ben Mikaelsen did to represent their culture well?
16. What is one more thing (that you learned from one of these sites) that you would add to the actions of Edwin or Garvey in this story?

http://cooday8.tripod.com/page1.htm
http://www.carnegiemuseums.org/cmnh/exhibits/north-south-east-west/tlingit/index.html
http://www.ankn.uaf.edu/TlingitElders.html
http://www.keetgooshi.com/elders.html
http://www.ankn.uaf.edu/sop/SOPv7i2.html
http://capefoxcorp.com/tlingitculture.html

17. Write a one page essay about how your thinking has changed based on the ideas from this book. In your essay, address issues such as anger, blame, and the justice system.

Back to the top yellow arrow

Before reading the book

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After reading Chapters 1-4

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After reading Chapters 5-13

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After reading Chapters 14-25

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After reading Chapters 26-28

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If you have any questions or comments about this treasure hunt, feel free to contact Ann Salt at:

annelizabethsalt@yahoo.com mailbox image

Page last updated: Tuesday, March 18, 2003