Heroic Teddy Bears & Movie Magic: 5 Fun Facts About Spark and the League of Ursus

Heroic teddy bears, thrilling adventure, and girl power combine for an unforgettable book series that will give you a new appreciation for your childhood teddy bear.

Odds are, you have countless memories and photos with your childhood teddy or other favorite plushies by your side. But these days, they might be spending more time sitting on your bed or tucked away in a box. It’s a part of growing up – we start growing out of the things we once loved when we were little and start spending more time with our friends, our homework assignments, and our phones. In Spark and the League of Ursus, that’s exactly where Loretta is in her life. She’s eleven years old, and she’s much more interested in making movies and YouTube videos with her brother than spending time with Spark, her childhood teddy bear.

An army of toys, a menacing threat, and a thrilling adventure collide in the high-stakes sequel to Spark and the League of Ursus.

Spark may be a cute and cuddly teddy bear, but she’s also a fierce protector. Weeks after rescuing her human owner—a budding young filmmaker named Loretta—from a hideous monster, everything seems to be returning to normal. But then Spark is summoned before the mysterious Grand Sleuth, the high council of teddy bears, who task her with a dangerous mission: locating the portal to the monster’s world.

During her daring quest, Spark discovers a terrible secret that changes everything. In order to keep Loretta and their whole town safe, she must enlist the help of her loyal toy friends and team up with an unexpected ally. As the menace grows, Spark realizes that Loretta has a hidden power that may be the key to saving them all . . .

This dark middle grade fantasy is perfect for fans of the Nightmares! series and Holly Black’s Doll Bones.

Spark and the Grand Sleuth
AUTHOR: Robert Repino
PUBLISHER: Quirk Books
DATE: March 23, 2021

What Loretta doesn’t know is that Spark is a fierce warrior, who spends her nights protecting Loretta and the rest of her family from the monsters that lurk when the lights go out. In the first book, Spark and the League of Ursus, Spark finds out that the monsters are taking children and they want Loretta next. Spark then calls upon the League of Urus, a secret alliance of teddy bears and other beloved toys like sock monkeys and princess dolls, who have pledged to keep their humans safe from harm. It’s an exciting story that will leave you wanting to snuggle up with your teddy the next time you watch a movie.

The newest book in the series, Spark and the Grand Sleuth, is out today, and the adventure continues as Spark faces her biggest challenge yet! Tasked by the Grand Sleuth to locate the portal to the monster’s world, Spark embarks on a daring quest where she discovers a terrible secret that changes everything. Will Spark and the other toys be able to protect the town from this dangerous threat? You’ll have to read it to find out!

We’re super excited because author Robert Repino has put together 5 Fun Facts about the Spark series, some filmmaking tips, and the disputed origin story of teddy bears!

Author Robert Repino Shares 5 Fun Facts About Spark and the League of Ursus:

(Illustrated by Ryan Andrews – Spark and the League of Ursus)
A League of Teddy Bears:

Spark is a member of the League of Ursus, a society of warrior teddy bears who are sworn to protect the children who love them. They keep an eye out for monsters, and they signal to other bears in the area when trouble is afoot. The League is led by a council of bears known as the Grand Sleuth (“sleuth” being the word for a group of bears).

Though Spark is not one to always follow orders, she proudly recites this mantra whenever a monster appears:

I am Spark. I am the sworn protector 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 me by the League of Ursus, I command you to be gone!

The monsters usually run away when they hear that. But one day, Spark meets a monster that laughs at her when she tries it. And that’s when she knows that she’s in big trouble.

Bears and Dusas:

“Dusa” (DOO-sah) is the word that bears use for the human they protect. Spark’s dusa is an eleven-year-old girl named Loretta who is obsessed with movies. Loretta and her brother Matthew are amateur filmmakers, and they even have a YouTube channel in which they review movies and share tips on how to create them.

A bear comes to life when a child starts to love them. But when we first meet Spark, she is not entirely sure what happens when a child grows up and moves on, as Loretta appears ready to do.

The (Disputed) Origin of Teddy Bears:

If you research the history of teddy bears, you’ll find two competing stories. First, you’ll come across a story involving President Teddy Roosevelt. In 1902, Roosevelt went on a hunting trip. His aides wanted to help him catch a bear, so they found a cub, tied it to a tree, and invited the President to shoot it. The President refused—it was just too cruel and unsportsmanlike. And when the newspapers reported the story, it inspired toymaker Morris Michtom of Brooklyn, New York to create a line of stuffed bears named in honor of the President.

Around the same time, in Germany, Richard Steiff began selling a similar toy. Soon, both Michtom and Steiff were sending their bears all over the world. By then, both toy lines became known as “teddy bears.”

In my book, Michtom and Steiff are unsung heroes. They mass produce their bears precisely because they know that monsters are so afraid of them. As a result, the bears have kept the peace for over a century…until, that is, Spark encounters a monster who might tip the balance of power once again.

(Illustrated by James Firnhaber, Spark and the Grand Sleuth)

In both books, Loretta mentions something called “storyboarding,” which is a tool that filmmakers use to make a movie. Storyboards are basically large sheets of paper with drawings that show each shot that the camera will make. Kind of like a comic strip.

So, if you’re filming a person going to a restaurant to meet a friend, the first picture might show the person entering the building. The second will show them waving to their friend from across the room. The third will show the two friends shaking hands at the table. And so on. All of this helps the director turn the script into something we can see and hear.

If you have an idea for a story, you can try your own simple Spark-inspired storyboard here!

Women in Film:

Loretta makes mini-movies in which Spark and several other stuffed animals go on adventures. Now, most movie directors in Hollywood are men. To give you an idea of just how lopsided the business is, the Academy Awards for filmmaking (also known as the Oscars) has been around for almost a hundred years. And in that time only five women have been nominated for the Best Director prize, and only one(!) has gone home with an Oscar.

But things are changing. I like to think that by the time Loretta is an adult, she will have more opportunities to create movie magic. This is an incredible artform, with limitless possibilities, and it could use some more voices to share their perspective with the world.

Of course, that all depends on if Spark can complete her mission and defeat this monster!

In need of more reads starring heroic animals and lots of girl power? We think you’ll love Katie the Catsitter!

Previous Post Next Post