SNOW BEAR

In this sweetly sentimental story set in the frozen twilight of an Arctic spring, George (Morning, Noon, and Night, p. 699, etc.) tells of an Inuit girl who goes out to hunt. Bessie Nivyek sets out with her big brother, Vincent, to hunt for food; in a twist out of McCloskey’s Blueberries for Sal, Bessie bumps into a young bear, and they frolic: climbing, sliding, somersaulting, and cuddling. Vincent spies the tracks of his little sister and follows, wary of the mother bear; the mother bear is just as wary of Vincent. Out of the water rears danger to both the child and cub—a huge male polar bear. The mother bear warns her cub; it runs away, as does Bessie. Brother and sister head back home, “to eat, go to school, and learn the wisdom of the Arctic like Eskimo children do.” The brief text is lyrical and the illustrations are striking, with an impressively varied palette of white, in blue, green, yellow, and gold. Children who note that Vincent goes home empty-handed will wonder why he didn’t hunt any of the polar bears that were within range. While children will enjoy this romantic view of Bessie and the bear, those seeking a more realistic representation of life in this harsh environment will be unsatisfied. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-7868-0456-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1999

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CLICKETY CLACK

A train load of wild and wacky animals gets so noisy that the engineer has to shout to get them to quiet down. The little black train picks up yaks, acrobats, a troupe of ducks, and stomping elephants as passengers. But when two mice that are in to fireworks climb aboard, the engineer threatens to stop the whole train. “ ‘Keep it down!’ yells Driver Zach. ‘You’re giving me a headache attack!’ “ Everyone quickly hushes up, and soon, “the only sound you hear, in fact,/is the sound of the wheels on the railroad track. Clickety clack, clickety clack.” The words bounce along to the rhythm of a train on its way, and the swell of the sound effects makes this a joy to read aloud. Spengler’s robust illustrations capture an antic cast of passengers, conveying the action as much through composition as color. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-670-87946-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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HOW MANY CANDLES?

PLB 0-688-16259-2 Time is relative, as Griffith’s pleasingly droll story makes clear, especially when a cat, a dog, a turtle, and a couple gnats get together to compare longevity. The dog, Alex, has made a cake for his friend, Robbie, a boy turning ten who never appears in these pages. A cat notes that Robbie’s years equal about 70 of hers, while a turtle figures that the same number equals about 8 of his years, because he can live to be 100. Two gnats buzz in to check on the doings, and they can’t even begin to comprehend the very notion of ten years—“ ‘Well, they’re gnats,’ said the cat. ‘Ten years to a boy is one billion years to a gnat.’ “ As Alex tries to determine how many candles are needed for each new configuration, the cat sniffs the cake: “This seems to be made of dog biscuits,” and the higher mathematics are put on the back burner while some sheer tomfoolery comes to the fore. This is a delightful exploration of dry humor and number-juggling, accompanied by some elegantly funny artwork. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-688-16258-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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