By: Caroline Arnold
Publisher: Picture Window Books
Publication Date: January 2010
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: February 2010
Come fall it is time for many animals to hibernate for the winter and an Arctic polar bear will approach a large snow drift to begin digging out a den. Once she "hollows out a room for her den" she is ready to curl up and await the birth of her cubs in two months. The tunnels each bear digs can vary, but usually they are approximately six feet in length, just enough room for a mother bear to nestle in. In the Arctic, January is continuously dark and it is time for the polar bear to give birth. The twins "are covered in thin, white fur" and "their eyes are closed tight." These babies, who weigh slightly more than a can of corn, curl up on their mother's belly to nurse. There, in her cozy darkened den, she will tend to them until it is time for them to venture out into the world three months later.
Once out of the den they begin to play in and explore their new world until one day they no longer go back into the den. The mother, who is hungry, begins to hunt for seals, "her favorite food." The cubs learn how to hunt by watching her as she patiently waits by a "breathing hole" for a ringed seal to surface. They are not alone on the Arctic landscape for you can see other creatures such as the caribou, snow geese and the arctic fox. In this book you will learn about the polar bear habitat, where they live, what they eat, their physical characteristics, their life cycle, how they hunt, and many other interesting facts. Did you know that "Polar bears have such a good sense of smell that they can sniff a seal from 20 miles (32 km) away?" Amazing!
This fascinating book is an excellent way to learn about polar bears, our "largest land predators." The gentle flow of the book and the magnificent cut paper collage gives the reader a feel for the arctic world and the polar bear. The picture book format makes it easy for younger children to absorb factual material when the "story" is read to them. A confident reader will enjoy reading about the polar bear, while an older student could use the information as a stepping stone to a report. There are scattered informative sidebars in the text that I find to be a real plus. In the back of the book there is a world map that shows where polar bears live, a section on "Polar Bear Fun Facts," an index, a glossary and additional recommended books and internet resources (Fact Hound). This is one book in the "Caroline Arnold's Animals" series that would be a welcome addition on anyone's shelves!
Quill says: This fascinating book is an excellent way to learn about polar bears, our "largest land predators!"