This first picture book by a German author/illustrator introduces an artist talented at drawing animals with amusing expressions--coming and going. Lars, a young polar bear out for his first hunt with his father, goes to sleep on an ice floe. When it breaks away during the night, he begins to float towards warmer latitudes, assisted by a storm and a convenient barrel to which he attaches himself when the ice melts. He lands on a tropical isle and runs into another father-figure, Henry, a kindly hippo who gives him a tour and introduces him to an eagle who finds a way back to the North Pole for Lars: a ride on the back of a friendly whale. Back home, Lars entertains his bemused father with tales of his adventures. A slight, run-of-the-mill plot, but what makes this memorable are de Beer's detailed pastel illustrations and the subtle humor of expression that he lends his characters. Even their behinds, which are often pictured, are given eloquent style with brief but character-filled marks of the pen. In the best sense, a nice book and a promising introduction.