1. How did you react to reading an entire book from the
perspective of a five-year-old? Did you like Anna's voice? Did it
take some time for you to connect and/or relate to the differences
2. One of the challenges an author takes on by using a young
child as narrator is that their vocabulary is limited as often is
their viewpoint. Because of this narrative style, the
reader is left to connect a lot of the dots themselves. Were there
any parts that you reread once you were used to the style?
3. Do you think the story would have been as compelling if it
wasn't told in first person? How would it have differed?
4. The novel is divided into four sections (three parts and an
epilogue), each with an identifiable theme. Discuss.
5. Did you sense an element of humour in the narrative? If so,
what was its role? What are the different ways that Cameron used
suspense to build the narrative?
6. What are five adjectives you would use to describe this
7. Have you ever encountered a bear in the wilderness? Will this
story change the way you feel about camping and the outdoors?
8. Did the book make you feel anxious, were there any parts that
were hard to read? Was there a particular scene that resonated with
you? Explain what sort of emotions came up for you and why.
9. Examine the way the children responded to being alone in the
wilderness. Do you think you would have acted similarly under the
same circumstances at their age? Would you have returned to the
10. Discuss the evolution of Anna and Stick's relationship over
the course of the narrative. What are some of the difficulties that
the children have to deal with other than the bear?
11. How did you interpret the significance of Gwen?
12. What do you think Anna is talking about when she refers to
the "black dog" in her belly? How did her perception of the bear
change over the course of her life? Do you think the bear is also a
metaphor for something? Are there any other metaphors that stood
out for you?
13. Based on Anna''s long road to recovery after the attack, and
her bout of silence, she was clearly much more traumatized by the
events than her initial telling of the story would have us believe.
What are the implications of this trauma?
14. What kind of domestic conflict do you think occurred between
Anna's parents before the trip? What was its significance to
15. In what ways was the return to the island different for Alex
and Anna? What did you think of the ending?