De Beer’s little polar bear, who debuted some 25 years ago, returns in a tale that combines familiar friendship problems with up-to-date concerns.
Global warming has brought a research submarine to lonely Lars’ northern home. That warming has also stranded two young polar bears on a floe, and the submarine rescued them, since they were too young to swim. But Lars knows they must be returned to their parents. With the aid of his new dachshund friend (the ship’s dog) and his even newer Arctic fox friend (with the best nose in the universe, it knows just where the polar bears live), the cubs will be returned to mama and papa after mild adventure. The story is very gentle, and the possible effects of global warming are only nibbled at; the artwork is sharp and transporting, whether it is the inside of the submarine or the otherworldly landscape, as translucent as the aurora borealis. Geography is a little thin on the ground here. “Lars, the little polar bear, lived at the North Pole,” though on the next page, as a result of global warming, readers learn that “Lars’ friends and their families had moved farther north,” which is a pretty neat trick when you already live as far north as you can get.
As a rudimentary introduction to friendship and environmental issues, if not geography, Lars can still create the mood. (Picture book. 3-6)