From School Library Journal
Grade 2-4–Given the number of anthropomorphized polar bears in picture books, it is important to have one that acknowledges the bears actual relationship with the people who share the Arctic north. There is no plot; pages are filled with tidbits of information in different font sizes about the animals. Texture from the canvas often shows through the color in the oil-and-pencil illustrations. This technique lends an ethereal, painterly quality that is often lovely, and occasionally distracting. Images are very realistic. One close-up shows the bears face smeared with blood after a seal kill. In the end, the unnamed narrator explains what the Inuit have learned from these animals. A quiet, thoughtful book.–Amelia Jenkins, Juneau Public Library, AK
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K-Gr. 2. Categorized as nonfiction but written from the perspective of a fictional Inuit speaker, this inviting picture book delivers facts about polar bears and conveys respect for their adaptive success. Information appears in both the lyrical main text and in one or two extra facts positioned elsewhere on each spread. Children will be fascinated by the impressionistic oil paintings of stunning polar settings and bears at play, tenderly nursing young, and, yes, hunting seals, an activity represented by a stark image of a bear's crimson-stained muzzle that may startle the youngest readers. Blythe's mottled daubs of paint upon woven canvas contribute textures that evoke the iridescent sparkle of ice and snow, but occasionally make the supplementary facts (printed in a small typeface) difficult to read. Still, this serves as a solid introduction to a powerful animal of interest to many children; a brief author's note about the threatened polar ice caps and an index extend its usefulness in the classroom. Pair this with Jonathan London's Ice Bear and Little Fox (1998). Jennifer Mattson
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