Grade 3-9-This book is based on a purely delightful concept-recording the changes in Arctic light from one summer solstice to the next. In Fairbanks, AK, Miller begins with the 21 hours and 49 minutes of daylight on June 21, then follows the light's diminution month by month to the winter solstice and its daylight of 3 hours and 43 minutes to its gradual swelling back to the summer solstice. Her brief text includes not only lyrical messages about light and its partner, darkness, but also references to the reaction of wildlife to the waxing and waning: the migration of birds and caribou, the hibernation of bears, the changing coat of the Arctic hare. Wrapped about this unfamiliar (to many of us) swirl of seasons of light are Van Zyle's superb and quietly beautiful acrylic paintings, which capture both light and dark in perfect harmony with the text. A map of Alaska, an introductory note, and an excellent glossary are included. Team this bit of loveliness and imagination with Ellen Jackson's delightful quartet Summer Solstice (2001), Autumn Equinox (2000), Winter Solstice (1994), and Spring Solstice (2002, all Millbrook); encourage children to get out a calendar, pen, paper, thermometer, and clock and jubilantly record the radiant pattern of light in their own little corners of the world. A winner.
Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY
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Gr. 2-4. Miller, a resident of Fairbanks, Alaska, explains the peculiarities of light and seasons near the Arctic Circle and briefly introduces some of the animals that live in the area. Text at the top of each page carries a date ("June 21," "July 21," and so on through a year); the hours of daylight; the time of sunrise and sunset; and the average temperatures. Below, a double-page painting shows a scene in the natural world, typically accompanied by one short paragraph commenting on what is happening and another discussing the length of day and night as well as natural phenomena, such as "sun dogs." The realistic paintings often focus on animals within a landscape. The book concludes with an unusually good glossary that describes phenomena and terms such as alpenglow, flat light, and vernal equinox. Useful for the classroom. Carolyn Phelan
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