CM . . .
. Volume XVI Number 4. . . .September 25, 2009
While their mother dozes, two polar bear cubs play nearby. As the snow falls more swiftly and heavily, it blankets the tundra and reduces visibility. In their playfulness, the wrestling cubs wander farther away from their mother and eventually become lost. Looking for their mother, the cubs encounter an arctic hare, an arctic fox, a snowy owl and a flock of ptarmigan. When night falls, the cubs settle down in a snowbank for shelter. Gazing up at the starlit sky, they imagine the twinkling stars and the shifting northern lights to be the different familiar animals of their tundra home, The final image they see is that of a large polar bear, and, reminding them of their mother, the image comforts them and helps them to fall asleep. A raven’s loud squawk breaks the silence, and the “snowbank” on which they are resting begins to move. It is their mother, and after she shakes the snow off, the threesome is reunited and settles down to sleep.
This book is described as the author’s “tribute” to polar bears. Indeed, LaBella’s love for the polar bear and its arctic habitat is most evident. The combination of her text and the pastel watercolour paintings lend a dreamlike quality to the book. Each double-page spread has text as well as a pencil-shaded drawing on the lefthand page and a large watercolour painting on the right. Soft mauves, pinks, blues and peaches, as well as special watercolour techniques, add movement and visual appeal to the story and suit its mood perfectly. Even the pale blue and white snowflakes on the end papers are repeated in the snowflake borders on each page, demonstrating LaBella’s attention to detail.
Gail Hamilton is a recently retired teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.