- The Polar Bear by Jenni Desmond
ISBN 978-1-59270-200-8 $17.95 R 6-9 yrs
This picture-book natural history title opens with a little girl reading about polar [End Page 168] bears, and she threads her way through the illustrations as the text describes the bears’ range, anatomy, feeding, and cub-raising habits. This has some similarities to Nicola Davies’ science picture books such as Big Blue Whale (BCCB 10/97) or Saxby’s Big Red Kangaroo (BCCB 3/15), though those books had parallel texts while here there’s only one single narrative explaining the polar bear’s world and customs. It’s the captivating art that will really lure audiences anyway: sweeps of watercolor touched with pencil give texture and depth to the Arctic whiteness, and dramatic compositions (in one image, a view down an inky ice lead draws the eye to where the distant polar bear waits above the shadowy figure of a seal) provide a you-are-there feeling; occasional diagrammatic touches add information but never break the artistic flow. The framing device of the little girl is conceptually superfluous (if artistically useful), but the book brings the world of the polar bear close and shimmering, and it will engage both existing fans and Arctic newbies.