Mama Bear, Baby Bear by author Linda Silvas

Review By Dawn Karima Pettigrew
News From Indian Country 11-08

Acjachemen Nation author Linda Silvas crafts a cautionary tale concerning addiction and redemption in Mama Bear, Baby Bear. Gentle warnings call readers to accountability and change throughout the pages of this story. Incorporating imagination and insights into wellness and sobriety, Mama Bear, Baby Bear recounts the introduction of the “forbidden fruit” into the lives of the animals that dwell in the Cipmylo Forest.

According to this tale, a certain berry possesses the power to heal humans who have been stricken with dreaded diseases. Yet, this same berry proves to be toxic to the members of the animal people. Intoxication, abandonment, desertion, and failure follow the animal people’s consumption of this “forbidden fruit.” As a result, the fruit that comes from the Sgurd Bush wreaks havoc on animal families and on the futures of the individual animals themselves.

As this forbidden fruit shackles the animals with the bondages of addiction, Mama Bear attempts to apply her own family’s painful experiences with this dangerous berry to the life of Baby Bear. Warned by the example of the other animals and the impact of this detrimental substance on the lives of his family members, Baby Bear understands the potential harm that stems from ingesting this forbidden fruit. Still, Baby Bear’s family is torn apart by the effects of addiction and cravings for the Sgurd Bush berries. Only Mama Bear’s love and wisdom create restoration and healing for her grandchild and for her children.

This book unfolds in the tones of a patient storyteller, who utilizes traditional imagery and ideas in order to address modern problems. Linda Silvas depicts the contemporary trauma inflicted by addiction to alcohol and drugs in this allegory. Mama Bear, Baby Bear represents an intriguing way to examine the issues of addiction and recovery that can be presented to readers at every age level. Through this story, readers learn about the monumental value of prevention, find out about the possibility of recovery, encounter the perils of untreated addiction and discover the healing powers of family and wholeness.

Mama Bear, Baby Bear: A Native American Lore by Linda Silvas. Carlsborg, WA: Little Tree Creations,  2004, 53 pages, $23, ISBN: 0-9771720-0-7, paper.