“Bear Stories” is a collection of seventy-seven tales that are designed to be humorous while still speaking to larger issues and truths. This is a rich, multi-faceted manuscript that is designed to appeal to readers of all ages. Among his “Bear Stories,” Shaffer delivers the unknown biography of Smokey the Bear, he celebrates the cleverness of Wilbear and Orville Bear as they take to the skies, and he reveals how the assistance of a bear helped result in the invention of the light bulb. He tells the “true” story of the history of the home run – a bear named Homer who walloped the ball in every at-bat – as well as that of the discovery of electricity (by Bear Franklin), and the telephone (by Alexander Graham Bear).
In addition to his more creative stories (such as the aforementioned), Shaffer’s manuscript also draws its inspiration from current situations, as in “Bears in the City,” which is based on a headline seen to that effect. His stories capture the nature and setting of the Old West, small-town America, Nazi Germany, and Roaring Twenties’ Hollywood; in some ways, therefore, his work could help introduce young readers to certain periods and events in history.
Shaffer’s use of language is both enjoyable and humorous. In addition, his delightfully self-deprecating tone may appeal to readers. The rhyme and meter utilized throughout the manuscript help to move it forward effectively, while Shaffer’s use of personification is nothing short of masterful, and may further endear him to readers, both young and old. Ultimately, his work is a fun, smart collection that could have a wide appeal.