Secret Teddy Society: Breaking the Code

Secret Teddy Society: Breaking the Code by J.S. Gilmore
Summary (From an email sent to me by the author):
Teddies don’t have claws – at least not real ones.  That’s what Waldo was thinking as he watched his best friend turn into a Were-bear by the moonlight. Waldo had no idea that a string of events would unwind all because he and Bobby Bear were caught going after the milk in the fridge by James, a stay-at-home dad trying to write his first book. Nothing happens in the teddy world that the Council doesn’t find out about because of the Teddy Network; and “no moving in front of a human” is the first rule of the Teddy Code. It’s only a matter of time before a punishment is determined for the two bears – but what and when? Sometimes the waiting can be worse than the punishment itself. Fluffy hasn’t been heard from since he was caught moving.
  James begins to write about the daily adventures of Bobby Bear and Waldo not realizing the harm that he may be causing to the Secret Teddy Society.
Waldo’s timing for breaking the Code couldn’t have been worse! The teddy world had been quiet for the last hundred years or so, but that is about to change. The Teddy Council is facing the evils of power and corruption, a product of human influence. Ballinger is convinced that Theodore is too old to run the Council and will stop at nothing to prove it.
This book provides a rare look inside a secret culture we know very little about.

My Review:

I was very curious about this book because I thought my girls (9 and 6) might like it. Cute little teddy bears come to life, what could be better? It starts out with a brief history of the teddy bear and how teddy bears began coming to life. Then it starts right into the middle of a crisis with a teddy running to the Council with some urgent news. Already this book is different than I thought it would be. The writing is good. The descriptions of places and events are done well. I could definitely picture everything that was going on, and thought the imagery was great. The characters come to life on the page. Waldo and Bobby Bear along with James, Bobbie, Tiffany, Elvis, Fluffy Bear, Dakota, and Lyle are such fun characters. I especially liked James, Bobbie, Waldo, and Bobby Bear. James’ personality is outgoing and fun, and he seems like a great dad. Bobbie is sweet and fun loving. She loves her dad and her bears! Waldo and Bobby Bear are hilarious. I love the names they create for ice cream and marshmallows. This book has great potential! The problem I have with this book is that it is a tale of two stories. It doesn’t know where it belongs or which way to go. One part of the story is cute and sweet, with loving teddy bears who come to life and like to drink milk. They love being hugged and love Bobbie, their human. James writes these cute little stories about the bears and reads them to Bobbie’s class. This part of the story is perfect for K-3 little girls. But then there is the other part of the story. It is dark and scary with were-bears (instead of werewolves), zombie bears, a drunk, scary homeless man living in a cardboard box in an alley, and two teenage kids who try to steal a car and want to run over a teddy bear. There is also a ferocious dog, an intimidating Council, and two swear words. This part of the story is not good for those K-3 girls. I’m not sure who the target audience is. It is too much for the little girls, but I don’t think the 3rd-4th boys would like the cute, sweet part of it. I also don’t know if I would want a 3rd-4th grade boy reading about the drunk homeless person or the teenagers stealing the car. I wouldn’t want them reading the swear words. And older kids wouldn’t be interested in the cuteness of it. So, that’s my dilemma. This book has potential, but I just don’t know who the target audience is. I think I may have my 11 year-old son read it. If I do, I’ll let you know what he says.

Rating: PG+ (Two swear words, a drunk, scary homeless man, two teenage boys who steal a car, zombie bears, and were-bears)

Recommendation: ??? I’m stumped. 4th-5th maybe, but then they might be too old for the sweet part of the story. I’d also discuss the previously noted events with them as they go.

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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