Cover Image: Spark and the League of Ursus

Spark and the League of Ursus

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Member Reviews

The concept and cover were enough to win me over. On the whole, I had a good time with this one. Would happily give the follow-up a try.
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I had such high expectations for this book. I just love the concept and have read a few similar type books before. 

It was cute, but didn’t quite reach my expectations. The first 40% of the book was just... I don’t know, nothing was really happening. When we finally met one of the other main characters we starting getting some League lore and backstory which was super interesting. Things really picked up from there. For the rest of the book the pace was pretty good and it had some surprising depth at times for a teddy bear story, which was really nice.
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I received an ARC of this title via NetGalley (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. 
A beautiful story about monsters, growing up, friendship, and bravery from an unsuspecting place. I finished this book in one day as I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. Anyone who had (or for our younger audience has) a stuffed animal best friend who helped them fight the monsters under their bed will immediately connect with the story. It also lets us know how far they will go to protect their children and how they feel about them getting older.
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I have long suspected that my childhood teddy bear was part of a secret organization to keep me safe, and this book made me think I am not the only one. This is quite possibly the most fun and original children's tale I have read for a while. It is imaginative, contains just the right amount of adventure, and fast pace to keep the young ones interested. 

SPARK AND THE LEAGUE OF URSUS has now been passed along to two young readers who are in love with the story too.
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Middle Grade Fantasy 

When monsters are real and they can take you in your sleep only your faithful teddy bear can save you!
- "We are the sworn protectors of this house. We serve goodness and truth. We give refuge to the innocent. We defend the light to the final light in times of darkness. By the power bestowed upon us by the League of Ursus, We command you to be gone."

This story was unique in premise and sweet. Giving life to your favorite toy (a-la Toy Story) with a bit of  twist that makes said toy your protector was sweet and honestly made me a bit sad that we must grow up. Though the book wasn't everything I wanted it to be it was lovely. I'll be buying a teddy and passing along a couple copies of this book to my local shelter.
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A fun and adventurous tale about teddy bears that guard their children from nightmares and other monsters that go bump in the night!
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Toy story but an an elite organization with guardian teddy bears, Spark a teddy bear guardian, as she protects her humans from a mysterious evil that is taking children from their beds. I found this story refreshing and engaging. I would recommend to anyone to read.
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Thank you NetGalley for this copy! Spark and the League of Ursus was such a fun book to read! I was hooked from the start, the main character Spark was my favorite because of how brave and smart she was. I loved how descriptive the author was throughout the book. It had me turning the pages! This is definitely a book i would recommend to my friends and family!
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Did you know that your Teddy bear is your protector against monsters? Monsters that take children. That is the premise of this story in which siblings Matthew and Loretta's bears (also known as dusas); Sir Reginald and Spark battle evil.
Based on the cover and the first few chapters, I thought I had discovered the perfect fantasy book for younger readers. Not so much, Matthew and Loretta and their classmates are middle schoolers and the themes of the story skew older.
Give this to tweens and young teens who like battle fantasy.
This book was provided to me for free through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Matthew and Loretta are the most interesting characters, particularly because of their enthusiasm for moviemaking. The bears, though, fall flat, and the world-building isn't there to get the reader to suspend disbelief at teddy bears coming to life. There's a lot of action at the end, but the plot is hard to follow.
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In my blog post, I included a book trailer that I made.

I found this book a delightful mix of childish fun and serious courage. The story was paced well. I read it in only a few days. The characters were interesting and relatable.

The plot was unexpected but not in a bad way. As an avid reader, I tend to be good at predicting where the story is headed. It did not always go where I expected, which is rather refreshing. (More on this below the spoiler image)

My one regret…because this book was an ARC, I got a proof copy that did not have illustrations. I really wish I could see those sometime.

Who will like this book?
I thought because of the Stranger Things comparison in the Goodreads description, that this might be too scary for littles. But it was not bad at all. I could see this as a parent read-aloud for young children, maybe 8 years old if they have the patience to sit for a 192-page story.

I could also see kids up to preteen reading this and enjoying the story. As always it depends on the child. I have had 12-year-olds that request books that have no blood, no swearing, and no real violence. They love a good clean story. This is that. It has enough secrets and intrigue to keep the reader engaged without horrifying violence.

One of my favorite quotes in the book is this:

“It does not matter who made us,” he said. “What matters is what we do now”

Spark and the League of Ursus by Robert Rupino
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I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

When I first stumbled across Spark and the League of Ursus, I was so excited! Teddy bears that are alive and keep their children safe? Awesome! Toy Story was one of my favorite movies growing up (the third one still makes me cry), and it's one my monsters also enjoy. Unfortunately, this book left a lot to be desired. The story and characters lacked depth, and the details were vague and unsubstantiated. More often than not, the plot didn't make a lick of sense, and it frequently contradicted previously established facts. I really wanted to love this book, so I went into it with high expectations. I didn't expect weak world-building and confusing character origins. 

In a nutshell, the teddy bears (and occasionally other toys) come to life whenever they are loved into existence by a child. From what I can tell, age doesn't really matter, and the toys can be passed from one person to the next without it affecting their aliveness. However, they're supposed to protect until the final light, and we're told how that could potentially happen, which means Sir Reginald the Brave should have ceased to exist the moment Dad put him in the attic. Instead, his son (Matthew) is gifted Sir Reginald years later. Spark is given to Loretta, and Sir Reginald teachers her about the job and what it means to be a teddy bear. Apparently, there are monsters and demons, but we only see Jakmal (more on that in a moment). 

Things I want to know after reading this book:

1) Where do the teddy bears come from? How did the League of Ursus establish itself in the world? We see how the League of Ursus is formed (sort of), but there's very little information regarding how they expanded, which leads me to...
2) How did the teddy bears communicate with one another? They didn't write letters, make phone calls, or travel through underground tunnels, so how did the League talk to ALL of the living teddy bears around the world? It wasn't feasible.
3) Where do the stories come from? How are they passed down, if a teddy bear only starts living once they are given to a child? Sir Reginald was able to tell Spark, but if he started his existence once Dad loved him enough, then where did he get his stories? His information? How did he talk to the League? 
4) Why is it mostly teddy bears, but occasionally other toys (sock monkey, princess)?
5) They "go where they are needed" the most? Where is that? Who knows that? How are they informed?
6) If they live "until their final light," how was Sir Reginald passed off at the end? 
7) Now there are magical teddy bears? They're called hexens? How does that happen? How does it work?
8) Oh, now imaginary friends can be brought to life? They have no physical boundaries, because they emerged from a special child's imagination? WELL, THAT MAKES ABOLUTELY NO SENSE. 
9) Why did Sophia insist Matthew change the ending of the movie they were all working on? Why did the hero need to discover the magic within themselves? Who told her this? How was it relevant? Did it impact the story in some way?
10) Why didn't Jakmal get to speak for himself?

There was hardly any resolution at the end, which FRUSTRATES ME GREATLY. The immediate conflict was resolved, and the children were saved, but they didn't actually "defeat" the evil monster. Additionally, the evil monster might not have been a bad guy, only someone that was wronged and misunderstood. According to the teddy bears, Jakmal was a creature of their own making, and I actually wanted him to succeed with his not-so-nefarious plans. If I were him, I would've been pissed and looking for a way out of my eternal hell as well, so I can't really fault him for his actions. He didn't hurt anyone, and it seemed like he just wanted a way to end the pain he was in (that doesn't mean I think it was okay for him to abduct children). UNFORTUNATELY, NONE OF THAT WAS RESOLVED. The author doesn't even touch on what happened to him, or talk about how his story will end. I haven't heard anything about a sequel, which makes it worse. 

Spark and the League of Ursus lacked character development, had way too many plot holes, and left me feeling like the story was unfinished. I liked the characters, but didn't connect with them. The information presented in this book was confusing and contradictory, and I wish the magical elements had been expanded on. You can't create something like this without also providing readers with a strong background, and a world with clearly defined rules. It also needs to be something that can be built upon, just in case there is more story to tell. Lastly, no resolution really chafes, and it's not something that I can easily forgive as a reader. (★★★☆☆)
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So cute: teddy bears are our protectors (tbh, I've always thought that about mine - and my very first, imaginatively named Theodore, sits on a shelf watching as I type) and when Spark's person Loretta is in danger, he activates the League of Ursus to help him out. The author's Mort(e) series does a great job of making animals "human", with all their flaws, and this shows the same flair for stuffed animals and childhood toys. Any reader still afraid of the monster under the bed will be relieved to know that their teddy bear is always on duty, ready to spring into action.

ARC provided by publisher.
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This book is about teddy bears and monsters in the closet and elsewhere. It is a book about family and siblings and friendship. But mostly, it is about teddy bears, as Spark, the main character in this tale is a teddy bear and so there for the girl, Loretta, she has bonded with quite a while ago.

Another kid has disappeared in town and when Loretta's brother goes missing overnight, the search turns frantic and Spark has to step in and get all the resources she can get in order to help solve the crisis.

The story runs between realistic and fictional moments, mixing the two together in places. For possibly the first half of the book, it was not clear to me for where the story was meant to go to, but then, it took off.

I enjoyed reading this story and was, specially in the second half, glued to my chair when all of a sudden the action picked up and up and up. Who knew teddy bears could be that fierce and inventive and feisty and have such a strong code of honour.

This story holds also a lot of representation that I found very well done. To name but a few, teddy bears, siblings, family, crisis, physical impairment, dealing with bullying, friendships, kids as film makers.

I possibly will return to this book later this year and do a reread, as I feel this is a story that needs to settle, and possibly can be better appreciated in a second or third read.

This review refers to an eARC I received from the publisher via Netgalley. All views expressed are my owns.

Please check for trigger warnings. This book touches down with some quite scary moments. On the other hand, this book might be fantastic to talk about an experienced trauma.
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Repino masterfully blends whimsy and horror in this thrilling middle grade novel. There are some particularly gruesome battle scenes that describe the mutilation of some of the teddy-bears. Of course, being teddy-bears, they can patch themselves up with relative ease helping to alleviate some of the horror being described. Intense from the start, this book poignantly deals with issues of growing up, loss, and finding one’s purpose. A perfect novel for those who wished that Toy Story was more action packed.
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In Spark and the League of Ursus, teddy bears take an oath to protect children. When a monster appears in Loretta's bedroom, around the same time a local girl named Sofia and a teddy bear named Sir Reginald go missing, one bear - Spark - must bravely embark on a quest to find and save them. 

This book is a fun mix of Toy Story meets Stranger things  - two things my kids and I absolutely love. I read this book with my sons, ages 10 and 5, and we all enjoyed it immensely! 

Thank you NetGalley, Quirk books and Robert Repino for the digital copy of Spark and the League of Ursus in exchange for my honest review.
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When monsters come calling at night who is there to protect you? Why, your teddy bear of course! After all, all teddy bears are sworn to protect their house and those in it.

In Spark and the League of Ursus, Spark is a teddy bear loved by a girl named Loretta. Her brother, one year old, also has a teddy bear – Sir Reginald. Even though Spark knows about monsters, she has never seen one. So it quite a surprise when a monster appears in Loretta’s room threatening to take her. Spark acts fast to keep him away, but it leaves more questions than answers. What has happened to Sir Reginald? Why couldn’t she banish the monster outright? Does this have anything to do with a classmate that has gone missing? What do they do if it decides to return?

Within the course of the story, we get to know the Spark and Sir Reginald, her mentor, and the bears/protectors of Loretta and Matthew’s friends. What is interesting is how each of the protectors seem to take on quality and personality traits of their kids. But only one of them has ever seen a monster before so they all have to overcome obstacles one might face if you are confronted with something scary that you’ve never had to deal with before and learn how to work together before it’s too late.

In general, I think the concept is really cute. A lot of young kids love their stuffed animals and many have probably played make believe stories where their teddy bears have saved the day. On the other hand, because of the subject I can also see this being one that not every kid will gravitate toward, but that can be said for most books. Even though it is a cute concept for kids, I must admit I struggled with it as an adult reader since my head kept asking questions about how it all worked and why, but I am also not the target audience.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Thanks to Netgalley and Quirk Books for the advanced reader copy and opportunity to provide an honest review.
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I went into this expecting something far less intense than what this book is, and that's definitely not a bad thing. From minute one there's a huge amount of action, and it never <i>stops</i> which I absolutely love. A gem of a middle grade book, cute and easy to follow but also packed with action and adventure. It's adorable, which I expected from the synopsis, but at the same time there's something sinister about it, hitting basic human fears.

Most of these kind of books don't go below surface level feelings, but this... I wasn't sure how far it would go. I'm astonished by the fact that the characters seem actually fleshed out despite it being from the viewpoint of an extremely unreliable narrator. The characters are fun, Loretta is a really awesome one despite not having a ton of screentime, and all the bears are so cool! 

All in all, one that I'd recommend to a lot of my friends who like middle grade books, the action never stops and the whole thing is so cute and fun at least in the end of it all.
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I thought this was a really fun and sweet adventure story perfect for middle grade readers. I would probably use this as a way to try and entice some of my more reluctant readers because it has a lot of exciting moments and feels pretty relatable and easy to read.
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Have you ever seen that meme with a teddy bear standing over a sleeping child, challenging a looming monster? If you have, you've got the basis for Spark and the Legends of Ursus. Spark and Sir Reginald are teddy bears, pledged to protect their now-tween children, Loretta and Matthew, from monsters. Sir Reginald is the elder bear and mentor to Spark, the one who introduced her to the League of Ursus - the secret society of teddy bears, sworn to protect. Things are dire when a monster shows up in Loretta's room, and when a neighborhood girl goes missing. Spark and Sir Reginald are determined to protect their charges, but find themselves up against a terrible evil that they need help battling. Additional League of Ursus members, a sock monkey, and Amazon warrior princess doll are all that stands between the monster and the children of their neighborhood.

This is an exciting, heartfelt adventure book that embraces our love of teddy bears. Their gentle natures belie the fact that they are bears, who can be pretty ferocious! The story also looks at the love between a toy and a child - in this universe, a toy doesn't "awaken" until it's loved by a child - and how that changes as the child gets older and finds less time for their toys. If you have Toy Story fans, and readers of books like Brian Lynch's Toy Academy series, that are ready for a more involved book, this is the book to give them. Spark is a wonderfully idealistic, eager young character, waiting to be called upon for her moment; Sir Reginald is a world-weary warrior with much to pass along to his student. Loretta and Matthew are burgeoning filmmakers with their own YouTube channel, so there's some filmmaking tidbits here and there that could link up nicely with some Summer Reading programming involving filmmaking, maybe on a cell phone.

Spark and the League of Ursus is a good first fantasy novel to give to readers who are looking for something new, and a good fantasy novel to give to readers who may need that reassurance that it's still okay to love a teddy bear. (I do.) Have Stranger Things fans? Give them this one, too - that monster can surely come from The Upside Down.
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