This book was fantastic and I have a hard time believing it's meant for junior readers. Thematically, it's compelling and complex and interweaves stories within stories.
Jack is uprooted from Kansas to a boarding school in Maine when his mother dies. While there he befriends another eighth grader the bewilderingly weird, Early, who convinces Jack that they need to go on a quest in the wilderness to find the great Appalachian Grizzly Bear and find Early's lost (ie dead in the war) brother. Jack and Early embark on an amazing quest that neither of them could have ever anticipated. Set during the end of World War II this book will move you. A truly fantastic journey of two young boys facing inner demons and harsh realities of a cruel world. An uplifting and inspiring read.