A rumbling noise puzzles animals living in the Arctic in this picture book.
Magnus, a ringed seal, awakens from a “very deep sleep” to hear a “long, low rumbling sound.” After ruling out the wind, the sea, and an iceberg, he goes to find a friend with better ears to ask. Hare, with its long ears, doesn’t know either, so they ask Owl, and then Fox, Polar Bear, and Walrus. In this way, readers are introduced to some of the animals living in the Arctic. Author/illustrator Howarth’s narrative is lighthearted and mildly humorous, but it is also predictable and relies heavily on the rule of three, making it textually most suitable for readers on the younger end of the range. Lovely illustrations combine pastel colors and textured mottling with plenty of white space to conjure up a beautiful and accurate Arctic landscape in all its pristine glory (with the exception of the puzzling inclusion of two small sea horses in the double-page illustration of the underwater Arctic ocean). The cover and one inside illustration, showing pinky-red shrimp dangling comically from the seal’s jaws, may also give pause to readers who don’t find eating meat particularly humorous. Backmatter relays more information about each animal, including a dim prognosis due to the melting ice of our changing climate. This late introduction of doom in a lightly humorous story comes without preparation and leaves a dampening feeling.
This lighthearted tale features some less-than-well-integrated elements. (Picture book. 4-8)