An Arctic Native child and a polar bear forge a friendship in this wordless fable.
At the end of a day of fishing, the child unexpectedly encounters a polar bear in the igloo. Rather than taking fright, the child reaches out to touch the polar bear’s nose, and the creature accepts the gesture. Following a shared fish dinner, a relationship of mutual care and joy develops. But then the two must part after a heartfelt embrace, the bear to its own kind and the child to the family that awaits in the frame house that is their permanent residence. True to Indigenous wisdom, the picture book teaches reciprocity between the animal world and humankind. Perhaps less appealing for adult readers is the nature of the reciprocal portrait, as it does not depict either traditional gratitude between hunter and prey or the realistic fear that a big carnivore creates. Perhaps the lack of realism is the point: A hungry polar bear being fed by a human does not help the species in the real world, but in this world a child can make a difference, and the absence of text gives adult-child pairs ample room to imagine. Beck’s illustrations emphasize meticulous detail against expanses of Arctic white, the hairs on the child’s fur-trimmed parka and the bear’s coat rendered with equally loving precision
The imagination soars in this magical story of an unusual friendship. (Picture book. 4-8)