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Wednesday, November 23, 2022

ICEBERG: A Life in Seasons, written by Claire Saxby and illustrated by Jess Racklyeft. Groundwood Books, 2022. $19.99 ages 6 and up

"Humpback whales spiral, 
filter krill from giant mouthfuls of sea. 
Penguins dive for fish. 
Seals dive deeper to twitch-whisker hunt. 

Squid chase krill. 
Birds chase squid. 
Orca gather, linger, watch and seize. 
Short-tailed shearwaters feast then return
to their chicks. 

Who knew that making an iceberg the star of the show would result in such beauty? Those who know and admire the brilliant work done by both Claire Saxby and Jess Racklyeft will have guessed that it would be something. It is one of my favorite books from this year, hands down. 

The text is rich in observations made of the life cycle of the iceberg; the mixed media artwork a perfect accompaniment to the powerful descriptions for the seasons of that life. As its story begins in the last days of winter, the iceberg calves, meaning it breaks away from a glacier and makes its own place in the surrounding Antarctic waters. 

Each seasonal change transforms the iceberg itself. As in any other environment, summer brings much activity with the arrival of many birds and other species. Fall's shorter days encourage migration and preparation for the deep cold of winter when the iceberg lies motionless until the promise of another spring. Thus, this life cycle ends. 

"The iceberg twists, tilts, rocks, shears. 
It is old now - tall and small and mellow. 
It eddies into a sheltered bay, 
tips and falls.

The life of a new iceberg begins as a new dawn breaks. 

Digital illustrations created in watercolor, collage, acrylics, pencil, and ink are done in muted shades of blue, green, grey and teal in contrast to the brilliant white of the iceberg, They allow readers to see the animals that live on top of and below the ice, Careful observation results in discovering some surprises, and a gorgeous gatefold allows readers to see the many species that can be found there. 

A final page offers information about polar regions affected by climate change, a small global map and a glossary that provides help with new and pertinent vocabulary. 

Be prepared to read it once, and then again and again. Don't miss out, please.                                                                           

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