After hearing her grandfather’s stories of finding a polar bear cub while living with an Inuit family in the Canadian Arctic, a little girl dreams her own wintry adventure.
Sara’s parents have skipped the family’s annual Christmastime visit to Grandpa this year, staying at home as they await the birth of her baby brother and sending her alone. Sara loves visiting Grandpa but misses her parents, especially now that a major snowfall threatens to keep them isolated up north over the holiday. Grandpa, writing a book on Inuit folktales, entertains her with accounts of his own childhood, when he accompanied his father—then studying the Inuit people—to the Canadian Arctic, where Grandpa and Alignak, an Inuit boy, rescued a polar bear cub. Sara builds a snow bear and coaxes Grandpa into building a small igloo, where she snuggles into a sleeping bag and, listening to more stories, dreams. Originally published in 2012, the story—especially in its generic portrait of Inuit culture—feels stale, the characters bland. As recollected in Grandpa’s childhood memories and Sara’s dream, the Inuit are familiar, pre-industrial tropes—exotic sources of folktales and artifacts. (An endnote oddly describes Nunavut, Canada’s vast Inuit territory, as a “settlement.”) Vacillating between realism and fantasy, the plot never kicks into gear. Sara and Grandpa present white. Homey illustrations add warmth to an otherwise chilly read.
Trite and plodding. (author’s notes) (Fiction. 6-10)