Wit, imagination, and a bit of the impossible combine with chilly shades of icy blue and stormy gray for an elegant beauty of a book.
Combining panel storytelling with full-bleed artwork, succinct word use, and creative text placement, Heder’s tale comes alive as a picture book accessible to younger readers yet engaging to more sophisticated audiences. It’s the story of young Sophie, who’d rather watch television than do her homework assignment on polar bears. “They are big / they eat things / they are mean.” That seems to be all the young girl can think of, until a polar bear visits her living room and whisks her off to an artfully constructed Arctic, complete with ice floes, whales, and snow rabbits. In this follow-up to Fraidyzoo (2013), Heder captures the spirit of a child’s imagination, allowing readers to watch as Sophie transforms from boredom to curiosity to pure delight. Heder uses sumptuous watercolors to depict girl and bear laughing, learning, and tumbling through the wintry background. Wry, hand-lettered dialogue is the only text. “What else is under here?” the girl asks. “Seals…foxes…snow rabbits,” the bear responds. “But they avoid me.” The author teaches about life in the Arctic in the best way possible—by making it feel like she's not teaching at all.
Gorgeous to look at and a tummy tickler to read, this is a very fine book indeed. (Picture book. 4-8)