________________ CM . . . . Volume XX Number 26. . . .March 7, 2014


Bubbly Troubly Polar Bear.

Lisa Dalrymple. Illustrated by Elizabeth Pratt.
St. John’s, NL: Tuckamore Books, 2013.
32 pp., pbk., $12.95.
ISBN 978-1-77103-017-5.

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 4-7.

Review by Myra Junyk.

*** /4



Bring your kids in and we’ll show them the ropes
At Mr. McDermott’s Detergents and Soaps!
Nat giggles, “Dad Mr. McDermott won’t care
if you bring in three kids and just one polar bear.”


Nat’s father gets an invitation from his boss, Mr. McDermott, to bring his children – Nat, Alexander and Baby Kate – to visit the soap factory where he works! Nat decides to bring along her pet polar bear.

     At the soap factory, Nat is concerned about the three mystery sacks that her polar bear has brought with him. Everything is going well until suddenly she hears a strange sound,

          SLIP-PER-Y SLOP!

     Two seals appear from one of her polar bear’s sacks. They splash about in the soap factory, and the bubbles keep growing! The two other mystery sacks reveal more than a dozen black and white puffins and a moose.

      The factory is now covered in soap bubbles as the family tries to clean up the disaster. When Mr. McDermott appears, instead of being angry about the terrible mess, he is thrilled by the work of the animals and decides to keep them! Dad is relieved that “We’ll have – for today – no more Polar Bear Troubly.”

      Lisa Dalrymple’s rhyming text is lighthearted and engaging. At first glance, the story of a mischievous polar bear with three mystery sacks visiting a soap factory appears to be a bit contrived. However, readers will enjoy the fast-paced and amusing outcome of this premise. Nat and her family wander around in the soap factory as the disaster unfolds around them. All of the animals become dynamic characters in the narrative. The polar bear is a trickster who loves a good laugh. The seals, puffins and the moose are fun-loving and very interested in the soap factory.

      Bubbly Troubly Polar Bear is Lisa Dalrymple’s third book. Her last book, Skink on the Brink, was named as a recommended read by the Canadian Toy Testing Council (2014) and also appeared in the Canadian Children’s Book Centre Best Books for Kids and Teens (Fall 2013). This is her second collaboration with illustrator Elizabeth Pratt.

internal art      Pratt’s illustrations are bright, colourful and action-packed. The rhyming text gives the illustrator a lot of scope to provide readers with more detail about the narrative. Not only do Nat and her family members come to life in their actions and expressions, but the animals also take on definite personalities through the illustrations. The pesky polar bear gently puts a protective arm around Nat as they observe the laboratory in the basement of the soap factory. He sweats as he carries the sack full of seals up the stairs. He squirms when he realizes that the seals have escaped and are causing a bubbly mess in the factory!

      Bubbly Troubly Polar Bear could be used as a read-aloud for children at home and with students in primary classrooms. Once young readers become familiar with the text, they could participate in a shared reading experience. The sounds of the various animals would definitely engage them in the text. Dalrymple’s story will inspire discussion about issues as far-ranging as factory production, safety issues, pets, polar bears, soaps/detergents, and family.


Myra Junyk, a literacy advocate and author, lives in Toronto, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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