Lesser (What a Wonderful Day to be a Cow, 1995, etc.) weaves a surprising number of facts into a lyrical narrative about a year in the life of a polar bear. Readers learn how the bear's hollow white hairs gather sunlight while its black skin absorbs the heat, how it kills and eats and leaves behind meat for other, less able, animals. Some in the picture-book set will grow impatient with the long, poetic lines: ""Great crystal bear,/Alone/In the vast winter darkness,/Are you the mystical Nanuk of Inuit legend,/A man who enters an igloo/And emerges a bear, dressed in fur?"" Noonan's impressive watercolor paintings have mostly soft blue backgrounds, rendering the white of the polar bear's fur luminous, but the environment is pristine and dreamy: This bear kills and consumes a couple of seals without shedding a drop of blood. The book works best as a complement to more straightforward books about the polar bear.