Thursday, December 8, 2016
The Polar Bear, written and illustrated by Jenni Desmond. Enchanted Lion Books, Publishers Group Canada. 2016. $25.95 ages 5 and up
If you want to know more about polar bears, while also being fully drawn in by brilliant artwork, this is definitely the book for you. A little girl, obviously interested in the Far North (her bookshelf attests to that), finds the perfect book for today, and sets to reading it.
In the narrative that informs her search for facts, readers will learn right along with her. There is much to know. The weather poses little difficulty for a bear so well-equipped to withstand every harsh moment in its northern environment. Their adaptations are many, and quite remarkable. Thick fur, layers of fat, huge feet, tremendous strength and endurance, an excellent sense of direction, powerful swimming strokes, and persistence at finding the good food needed to sustain them - all important and essential if they are to survive.
Jenny Desmond writes in a conversational tone that makes the text accessible to the audience she wants to reach. She uses mixed media, finishing it digitally, to create the superb artwork that graces the pages of this lovely book. Dramatic and beautifully designed, the spreads are sure to draw readers of all ages to its high realism. Being at the edge of the ice as the bear peers into the deep blue water, and the little girl holds her tiny fishing line, you can only hope that something much too big will not rise out of the depths and tug on it. I feel as if I am sitting right beside her. The textures are impressive, the colors bold, the ever-changing perspectives are full of wonder.
And polar bears can be a little like the children who will share this book, and love what it has to teach them.
"Polar bears do not hibernate. They like to sleep though, and can sleep almost anywhere at any time. Like humans, polar bears sleep in different positions. On warm days, they might stretch out on their back with their feet in the air or lie down on their stomach. On cold, stormy days, they curl up with a paw over their snout for warmth, letting the snow cover them like a blanket."