The Arctic winter is white and gray until something special happens.
“When you live in the Arctic in winter,” opens the second-person narration, “everything is a shade of white.” “You” are a young girl, longing for color. White hues are described—blue-white tundra, the yellow-white of the polar bear, the silver-white of the arctic fox—and outsize, delicate snowflakes drift down. One night, “you hear a hum in the air,” and grandfather takes you walking on the tundra to see the northern lights, lush color swaths across the sky. Illustrator White uses watercolor on textured paper to give the snow’s surface a gentle nubbiness and depth. Ink delicately outlines human and animal figures. However, setting and culture are unclear. A modern paint box, a bound book, and a flashlight, together with the second-person, present-tense address (placing readers inside the story), imply a contemporary setting, but this girl lives a nonindustrialized life in an iglu, even though most contemporary indigenous Arctic people live in houses. The lack of any specific indigenous nation and some faux Native philosophy—“Grandfather says hope is golden. You can only see it when you look into a snowy owl’s eyes”—add to the romanticized Native image. Jan Bourdeau Waboose’s SkySisters (2000), an Ojibwe story about walking across tundra to see the northern lights, is a better choice.
Despite lovely art, a stereotypically generic and romanticized portrayal of indigenous people. (Picture book. 3-7)