A young Arctic ground squirrel enjoying the last few moments of sunshine risks being caught outside when winter falls.
Clad in a blue parka, siksik Ilua takes her time, watching the rest of her family scurry about gathering berries and Arctic cotton. The Long Sleep is “more than an hour away,” after all. Carrying her little sister in the hood of her parka, Ilua chatters companionably “about things that babies like to talk about,” dawdling all the while. But the hour passes more quickly than Ilua anticipates, and like clockwork, the snow begins to fall with the two sisters far from any of their den’s 30 entrances. Ilua asks a raven and then an Arctic hare for help, but the snow is already too thick. When a wolf appears, she tremulously asks him for help; thinking that Ilua’s whole family “would make a fine meal,” he digs away at the snow, uncovering an entrance—whereupon Ilua, thinking quickly, blinds him with the Arctic cotton she has gathered, saving herself and her sister. Hicks’ original tale has a pleasing predictability to its structure, and it’s enlivened by the genuinely warm relationship between the sisters. Her illustrations feature thick outlines, stylized, rounded figures, and bright, jewel colors for the Arctic sunset. The anthropomorphized siksiks are almost impossibly cute.
Girl power and sibling affection combine with the far north setting for a sweetly memorable tale. (glossary) (Picture book. 3-5)