As soon as you walk through the doors at Calgary’s Fish Creek Library, an unusual character is there to greet you: a realistic looking polar bear, off to the side of the checkout area.
Standing about two-and-a-half meters tall, the statue is the handiwork of Emma Wenzel, a Grade 8 student at the nearby Willow Park School.
“It’s so cool to have this here!” Wenzel said.
Her bear is part of a school project in which students were asked to create art inspired by book they really enjoyed.
“I made this based on ‘The Golden Compass,'” Wenzel said. “It’s about a girl who goes on an adventure and she meets this polar bear.
“It represented a really important father figure to her. A lot of kids can look up to that, a lot of people have different people in their lives who help them along their journey.”
The statue is a big hit with many families visiting the library.
“It’s pretty neat,” Louise Rainey said while checking out the bear with her 14-month-old son, Harry.
Wenzel crafted the statue on her own, with her dad helping a bit on the wooden skeleton she used as the starting point.
“I got newspaper and I molded that to it, and then I got masking tape and molded it to make the features,” Wenzel said. “It was too expensive to get fake fur to put on it, so I actually took apart some blankets and put it on. The claws and the nose and the eyes are all made out of clay that I baked and sculpted.”
The bear is one of several pieces done by Willow Park students on display at the library, part of a project to promote literacy.
“Seeing all the little kids run up to it, it’s so cool!” Wenzel said.
After being on display for several weeks, the students’ exhibit at the library has now ended.
The polar bear has gone into hibernation in the Wenzels’ garage, with Emma and her family now looking for a new home for the statue.