Touching Spirit Bear Project

By:Emily Baxter-Green

About Cole

In the book Touching Spirit Bear, written by Ben Mikaelsen, Cole is a boy from Minneapolis. However, he is no ordinary boy, his parents are alcoholics, and his dad lets out all of his anger by beating Cole. Since this is the way that he grew up, Cole always had anger management problems. “He drinks until he turns into a monster. My mom gets drunk and pretends nothing happened. Its like a bad dream I can’t wake up from.” Cole let his anger out on other people because that was the only way he knew how to do things. ‘“ I thought that you would help me,”Cole said,letting his irritation show.’ Cole had no filter through his brain or his mouth, and when he was mad, everyone knew."

Spirit Bear

Throughout his time on the island, Cole learned a lot about himself through nature. The first thing he learned from was the Spirit Bear. He learned what it was like to feel invisible, and to clear his mind from all of the bad things. He helped Peter to realize this as well when he came to the island. He knew that the Spirit Bear was real no matter what anyone said about it. ‘“It doesn’t matter what other people think or believe,” Cole said. “Its what you believe. That’s what’s important.”’ Cole realized how much the bear meant to him and tried to explain that to Peter. Cole knew that he would never forget the Spirit Bear. “ ...the Spirit Bear was also a memory that would never disappear from his mind or heart.”


The second thing that helped Cole was the soaking. When he was in the pond, he was alone and he had time to think about things and try to relax. And, Cole really showed an interest in being in the cold water every morning, that he made an effort to go as much as he could. “It’s been too cold most of the winter. The last few weeks I’ve been soaking as long as I can stand it.” Cole wanted to make Peter feel the same way, and so they both went to the pond to clear their minds, and become “invisible”. “At the place where things being visible faded into not-being, there stood the Spirit Bear, as clear as if it were standing only a few feet away.”


The last thing that helped Cole with his anger was the dancing. When he would do the animal dances, he would feel better mentally and physically. He could express himself through things that were on the island with him. “He let the story of his first visit to the island become his dance” And, even if he did not feel comfortable doing a certain dance, he continued to dance every night anyway. “I tried last week to dance the dance of anger, but I felt awkward, like I was pretending.”