What happens when the loudest (and smelliest) polar bear finds himself stuck on an ice floe with the quietest and most fastidious polar bear? They build a wall!
Neither Karl nor Hazel wants to have anything to do with the other, but as the ice steadily melts, they get closer and closer both literally and figuratively. Soon they’re playing games, singing songs, and fishing together. As their frozen chunk of real estate shrinks to a standing-room-only platform, they sight land and gleefully jump ashore. Taking off in separate directions, Karl inexplicably searches for fish. (Hasn’t he just left behind a fish-filled ocean?) Hazel, on the other hand, wants to explore and sit by herself. It doesn’t take long before the suddenly lonely bears call out to each other from across the vast new wilderness and reunite, even becoming roommates. The resolution, however pleasing, feels rushed, as the bears jump straight from realizing they’re friends to sharing living quarters. Olien’s palette of blues and stark white offset by bold, black outlines convincingly conjures the chilly Arctic landscape. Round, horn-rimmed glasses and a cheesy smile bring Karl’s gregarious personality to life, and Hazel’s reticent demeanor is nicely paired with an orange polka-dot scarf. Classroom-friendly facts and links about polar bears, climate change, and the Arctic are appended.
The simple storyline and art complement each other as readers are gently guided to comprehend the folly of judging a book by its cover. (Picture book. 4-8)