Mika is a young white polar bear whose imagination works double-time—particularly at bedtime.
His cousin, Vanilla (a surprising name for a black bear), comes to visit just before the longest night of the year and tries to help him work through his fears. With a trusty “torch” (a flashlight—clearly the translator was influenced by British idiom), Vanilla helps him see that the Giant Snow Monster with the gun is only a snowman with a plain old broom, and the dark shadows are not hunters with weapons but penguins with ice-fishing equipment. Two “huge snakes” (apparently this Arctic has snakes as well as penguins) turn out to be skis. A “dragon” becomes a friendly sled dog, and a spider turns out to be a black umbrella. Mika even begins to take charge when Vanilla seems to be frightened of two heads on a wall. The white bear confidently tells his cousin: “Don’t tell me you’re scared of a mirror!” Translated from the French, this is a story meant to help children work through their fears. It doesn’t quite make enough sense. Although readers are shown the objects that Mika fears, they never see the mirror that so throws Vanilla. But the bold pictures and the retro colors are fun. And just what is that red alien stuffed toy with one cyclopean eye that Mika drags everywhere?
The long polar night will never be the same. (Picture book. 4-6)