From School Library Journal
PreSchool-K-When Snowbear hears a wonderful, mysterious song, he ignores his mother's admonitions that "Bears don't sing" and sets off to find it. Consulting other animals, including a walrus, a raven, and a snowy owl, he eventually discovers the source of the song-a whale "trapped among the ice floes." Snowbear rescues him and learns his song, and the two eventually entertain all of the arctic creatures with their shared music. Moody, impressionistic watercolor paintings depict the animals and their environment in a soothing, dreamlike manner, but this art is paired with an overly dramatic and wordy text that leaves out some significant plot details in order to impart its rather vague message. For all of the validity of the moral-that one needs to be resourceful and find one's true voice-the message is lost in declarations such as "I am the magic maker of music, and my name is Uugah Beluga" and a plentiful use of exclamation points. Children will want to know how the whale was trapped, and will want to see the seals that are referred to several times in the text but never depicted. Look for more inventive books to help children see the value of learning to express themselves creatively.Tana Elias, Meadowridge Branch Library, Madison, WI
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
Grigg complements her first story for children with soft-edged, cool-hued watercolors that powerfully evoke the white-bound north. This tale of the polar Snowbear opens with a call to adventure, the summons of the mythic hero. This is a song of such haunting beauty that the young bear must follow it to its source, and so he does, leaving his mother and setting off across the ice floes. ``Maybe I can make those sounds and fill myself with songs,'' he tells his mother, to which she lovingly growls in a guardian-at-the-gate manner, ``Bears don't sing.'' The hero cycle, as Joseph Campbell delineated it, is followed nearly exactly, from the lyrical opening and through the unfolding of Snowbear's journey. Snowbear struggles through challenges, as his path is wracked with not only loneliness and uncertainty, but also with very real physical and emotional pain. When he finally finds the singer, a whale, it is trapped in ice from which Snowbear must rescue him. Readers will be primed for something special; delivered, instead, is a ditty of a whale mother's song in which the two new friends begin to harmonize. This awakens all the Arctic to a stomping, swaying response that lasts until dawn, but isn't captured on the page; the expected sense of triumph in the hero's return never emerges. After giving themselves up to a story with such glorious underpinnings, readers will be disappointed by the ending. (Picture book. 4-8) -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.