It is rare that after an hour encounter with a stranger, you would consider that stranger a friend; yet this is part of the magic of author Ben Mikaelsen, an author who not only can draw you into his works of fiction, but can also warm your inclinations of friendship when you meet him.

Ben Mikaelsen is a children’s author, whose best friend is a 750-pound black bear, Buffy.  Rescued as a 20-pound cub, Buffy became, as we found out from Ben, a prototype for Spirit Bear in his new novel, Touching Spirit Bear.

Students in Grades 6-8 devoured this fascinating novel this month, and then traveled to the Literacy Festival at St. Luke’s Lutheran School on January 25 to learn about Ben, his beloved bear, and the craft of this writer.  Not only did Buffy inspire this antagonist in the novel, but Ben also worked his own personal development into the twisted plot of bully-ness, forgiveness, and restoration into what we all agreed is a great teen novel.

While Middle School students read Touching Spirit Bear, students in Grades 4-5 read another novel by Ben, Countdown.  Upon their return to Trinity, Middle School students prepared to meet in small groups with the fourth and fifth graders to introduce their friend, Ben and his bear, as the author behind the Countdown, the book they read.

Dedicated to Trinity, signed copies of Touching Spirit Bear and Countdown are now in our Library. As some of our students were so touched by Ben, they are reading other novels by this author, including Stranded and Jungle of Bones.