Markle provides an uncommon look at polar bears, the largest hunters on land, in this narrative that follows an orphaned cub barely old enough to survive on her own.
Trapped on Wrangel Island in the Arctic Sea, waiting late into the fall for the annual floating pack ice to form, she and other polar bears subsist on the few animals they can find—typically only birds and walruses, as a note on global warming explains at the back. No big gestures or overt drama about the effects of climate change here, but a focused, simple look at how polar bears survive during so much of the year, when there’s no ice to help them in their hunt for seals in the Arctic waters. Marks’ realistic watercolor-and-pencil illustrations in blues and grays show a spare landscape and just enough detail to link the bear cub with the text. Bright spots of red on a walrus calf captured and killed by an older bear and on the dead bird found by the cub are subtle reminders that the bears are predators and carnivores. The language is straightforward, simple and clear, offering only the hope that the cub will survive the winter. An author’s note, polar bear facts, sources for more information and a discussion of global warming provide extensions to the story.
Sturdy and well-put-together nature writing for younger readers. (Informational picture book. 4-8)