Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Cuddly bear tale

Book tracks history of special Teddy

Express Staff Writer

    Local writer Patricia Thorne shares the story of her grandfather, Albion Parris Thorne in her book, “The Untold Story of the Teddy Bear,” which she will be on hand to chat about and sign at the Sun Valley Toy Store on Thursday, Dec. 12, from 4-6 p.m. and at Chapter One Books in Ketchum on Sunday, Dec. 15, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
    The illustrated book tells how a job with a retail store led her grandpa to meet the first stuffed bears in Germany, which were masterminded in the late 1800s by a paraplegic woman named Margarete Steiff.
    Thorne, a writer, photographer and graphic artist, spent nearly a decade meticulously tracing back how Grandad and Steiff came together over the toy, and how the name “Teddy” was given to the iconic bear, because, as family legend went and her research has shown, her grandfather had a particular fondness for then President Theodore Roosevelt. The president became linked with the image of a bear when a press cartoonist traveling with him during a trip to settle a border dispute in the South documented how his staff, upon Roosevelt’s return from an unsuccessful hunt, found a small bear and tethered it to a tree so he could bag the quarry. The president declined, but that event was forged in the elder Thorne’s mind when the stuffed bears came to the United States and his company began to market them.
    The author ascribes much of the characters of the bear to the circumstances, hardships, war, famine, the great Chicago fire and even health-related issues that bound the tenacious bear-backers, although they’d never met.    
    Thorne dedicated 15 years to research for this book, and it includes family letters, photos, old newspaper articles and text.
    For more information, visit

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