Touching Spirit Bear

By: Pooja~Serena~Jordyn~Ricky

Introduction of the Author

Ben Mikaelsen

Ben Mikaelsen is a writer of childrens literature. He is also of Bolivian and Danish descent. Born in Bolivia, December 8, 1952, Ben didn’t enter school until fourth grade, where he was heavily bullied based on his race. Three years later him and his family moved to the USA and continued seventh grade there. In 1984, he began writing full-time and won many awards, including the International Reading Association Award, Western Writers’ Golden Spur Award, and many Readers Choice Awards. Mikaelsen owned a male American Black Bear named Buffy for 26 years until death did them part on September 1st, 2010. Buffy was what Ben considered “750 pound member of the family” and has inspired many of his books. Some of his many other achievements include, being a sky diving champion, capable of flying a plane, and teaching himself to swim and dive. Today Ben is very active in travelling and writing with the help of his beloved wife and going on his 30th year of writing.

Setting Of The Novel

The setting of this book is presented in a remote island in Alaska located near British Columbia and in Minneapolis, Drake where Cole is from

Introduction of Main Characters


Cole is a defiant, self-pitied teenager who has been in trouble with the law many times until his crimes caught up with him after beating Peter Driscal, a classmate who ratted on him, into the sidewalk and is tried for an adult sentence to prison. Cole has always had a hatred to the world and to those who cared for him. He blames the world and those around him for his problems and actions. Cole, during his banishment and bear attack, learned to forgive himself, to take responsibility, he learned loyalty, trust, love, and self-control. He developed ways to cope with his anger and not let it control him, as well as to be invisible to the world around him.


Peter is a weak and upset kid that recently got assaulted by a classmate, Cole Matthews. Cole assaulted him because he turned him in for robbing a store. After being assaulted, he developed physical issues and brain damage. Peter eventually fell into depression and tried committing suicide twice. Cole felt sorry and deeply regretted assaulting Peter and to make it up to him, he tried helping Peter. He suggested that bringing Peter to the island where Cole was kept would help him. At first Peter was scared of Cole and didn't want anything to do with him so he tried hurting Cole. He wanted Cole to get mad and attack him again but Cole didn't do that. Cole controlled his anger and let peter beat him. Peter had almost killed Cole but after realizing Coles changed attitude, Peter forgave him.


Garvey is a Parole Officer in the Novel Touching Spirit Bear. He is an Indian Tinglit member of the killer whale clan. Garvey is very committed to his job of helping Cole change into a better person. He only will help Cole if he shows he is willing to change and become a better person. He is a very caring and serious person but at times, he acts like he is a very wise guy. Most of the time he sits around doing nothing and acts a little bossy.


Edwin is also a Parole Officer in the novel. He is too an Indian Tlingit. At fist, Edwin seemed like a complete jerk and wanted everything to go his way but towards the end when he was really into helping Cole become a better person, there was a complete other side of him. He was more understanding and caring becuase he had too been in Coles shoes. He knew what it felt to be beaten by your own father and feeling unwanted and unloved and so thats why he wanted to help Cole

Outline of the Plot Structure


Cole was in an Aluminum skiff in handcuffs heading into the southeast part of Alaska for his banishment to spend a whole year alone for what he did to Peter Driscal

Initial Incident

Where Peter got his head smashed into the sidewalk by Cole Matthews

Rising Action

Cole was given the ootaw by Garvey as a symbol of trust but Garvey didn't trust Cole.

Cole tried burning the Ootaw and burnt down the cabin.

He tried escaping the island by swimming away.

The tides just pushed him back to shore.


Where the Spirit bear attacks/mauled cole becuase he tried to Harm the spirit bear

Falling Action

Cole gets taken down to the hospital with Garvey and Edwin

Cole wanted to go back to the island so he wouldnt have to go to jail

Cole goes to a pond early in the moring to take a soak and then roll down his anger with his ancestor rock

Does multiple dances which every dance teaches him a valuable lesson such as the wolf dance that signifies that a wolfs strenghth comes from its pack and started carving totems

Finially does the Anger dance and learns how to forgive

Cole hears that Peter is going through depression and tried committing sucide a few times so he thought it would be a good idea for peter to come to the Island

Edwin conviced Peter to come to the island with his parents


Peter and Cole went for the morning routine Cole always had and Peter started beating Cole up and telling him to come beat him up but Cole didn't fight back. Eventually Peter stopped and thought about what he was doing and started crying so Cole comforted him. Then they both turned invisible and saw the spirit bear then went back to the cabin and carved the one last object on Coles totem to finish it off, A circle


The conflict is mostly Cole vs Himself. He was trying to understand who he is and learned how to forgive and control his anger but there was another conflict that also was Cole vs Nature

Themes of the Novel


Who is defiant, angry and self-pitied

Son of William and Cindy Mattews

Sibling of None

Who feels lonely, unloved, and unwanted

Who needs love from his family, to be trusted, to take responsiblity for his actions and to control his anger

Who gives comfort to Peter in the end when he really needed it

Who would forgive others, want to be happy and have control over his anger

Who fears death and beatings by his father

Resident of Minneapolis, Drake


The major themes for the novel Touching Spirut Bear is Forgivness, Anger, Trust and Self Control

Our Rating On The Novel
Touching Spirit Bear

We rated this book a 2.5/5

Because its very anticlimactic and it gets boring real fast. It wont hook you into it, and you would want to stop reading. Theres no cliff hangers and leave you wanting more. However some parts were deep but after a bit it would lose my interest.


The 15 year old Cole Matthews is a real criminal. He has been stealing a lot and now he also beats up Peter Driscal. He doesn’t go to trial but he has to go to Circle Justice. He has to go to an island and think about the things he had done and most important, change. Cole is brought to his new home where he has to stay for a year. He is extremely mad. He wanted to burn down all the supplies he got. In a flash back, Garvey asks Cole questions why he hates his life. It seems that his parents were constantly drunk and everything he did was wrong. Cole wants to escape and swims to another island. While Cole is swimming he gets a flash back from the acceptance for Circle Justice. There were all kinds of meetings where people had the possibility to tell their side of the story. When Cole seems to be swimming in the wrong direction he is back at his old island. His body was in pain due to the cold. But then he sees the spirit bear, which quickly disappeared. Cole was thinking about the meetings with the Circle Justice. He told everybody that he gets beaten up by his dad and that his parents are always drunk. Of course Cole gets mad again. Cole sees the spirit bear for the second time. When he was about to kill it, the bear disappeared again. Because of Cole’s attack, the bear fought with him. Cole got beaten up and was badly injured. He couldn’t move anymore and felt alone. After the fight there was a heavy storm. There were some baby sparrows who died in front of Cole’s eyes. This made Cole think. After seeing the dead sparrows Cole finally understood the Circle of life. He decides not to give up and he starts getting hope again. If Cole wanted to survive he had to find food. He saw a mouse and ate it. He felt better but then the spirit bear came again. He didn’t attack Cole but just stood there and watched him. Cole didn’t care to die anymore. He was proud and he didn’t give up. When he wakes up out of sleep he finds out that Edwin and Garvey took him to a hospital. While Rosey took care of Cole, he decided that he really wanted to change. He’ll be fair from now on. Everything is going to be different. After six months in the hospital Cole can finally leave. However he is still not able to do everything and he is still in pain. His mom stopped drinking and supports him. Everyone wants Cole to go to prison. Nobody trusts Cole anymore. But thanks to Garvey and Edwin, Cole can go back to the island. When Cole, Garvey and Edwin are back on the island again, Cole learns a great lesson. But that doesn’t make any money. Cole can’t waste his chance because there is no money for him anymore. Cole is still mad so Edwin decides to help. He learns him that memories will never leave. However, you can decide if you focus on the good or bad things. Cole worked on his hut. He also learned the whale dance. From now on, he doesn’t only focus on being alive but also on having fun and enjoying the moments. Cole was threatened to be taken from the island because of his bad attitude. But then he starts to be calm again and let go his anger. He is allowed to stay. Cole found out that he has to stop blaming other people instead of himself. When his shelter was finished, Edwin and Garvey left and he was alone again. Cole controlled his anger and made furniture for his shelter. He also made a totem pole. Cole did a lot of good things on the island. But he was still frustrated. He searched for the Spirit Bear but never found it. Maybe the spirit bear could help him. Cole know what he had to do. He had to clear his mind to see the spirit bear. He had to do the dance of anger and he was ready to forgive. It was winter and Cole stopped doing as much as he did before. He thought about forgiving and wanted to help Peter. Cole persuades Edwin to bring Peter and his family to the island. Cole shows them the island and tells them what he’s been through but Peter won’t listen to him. Peter is still on the island with Garvey and Cole. However Peter’s parents are gone. Peter is still mad but makes progress. He even let Cole sleep in the shelter. Peter starts believing Cole more and more. Cole learns him how to carve the spirit bear. Cole really wants Peter to believe him. Cole and Peter go fishing. Peter beats Cole up but Cole calms him down. When they both see the Spirit Bear, Peter realizes that it was a sign to forgive Cole. They both forgive each other and learned a beautiful lesson. Life is a circle.

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