A year in the life of the majestic denizen of the far north.
Originally published in 1996 as The Great Crystal Bear, with illustrations by William Noonan, this edition features all-new artwork from the author. Speaking in poetic second person, the author conveys accurate scientific information, such as the fact that “each hollow hair” of the bear’s fur “gathers sunlight / to heat your black skin and thick layer of fat.” Readers also learn that polar bears’ keen senses of smell attune them not only to nearby neighbors, but also to their favorite food—seals. Only seal skin and blubber are consumed; carcasses are left behind for other Arctic foragers who benefit from polar bears’ hunting skills and cunning. (The seal attacks are described vividly but depicted bloodlessly.) So goes the year. When the ice melts as spring and summer beckon, polar bear groups jockey for dominance and mates, and food becomes scarce. With the arrival of fall and winter again, expanding ice abets hunting. The target audience may tire of the lengthy, ponderous narrative, in which solid information is sometimes obscured. The highlight here is the striking collage artwork, comprised of gouache hand-painted cut papers. The illustrations impart a palpable sense of the bear, its habitat as it changes seasonally, and other wildlife.
For die-hard polar bear fans. (author’s notes, map) (Informational picture book. 5-7)