Sunday, January 31, 2010

Polar Bear, Arctic Hare

Polar Bear Arctic hare poems from the frozen north book review spinelliPolar Bear Arctic Hare
Poems of the Frozen North
by Eileen Spinelli
Illustrations by Eugenie Fernandes
Ages 4-8

This is a book of short poems about the Arctic wildlife. The illustrations are simple and complement the poems well.

What impressed me was that it educates about Arctic wildlife in such a way as to leave a lasting impression. And the verses are charming and catchy, easy to repeat, easy to understand. I enjoyed reading them out aloud. There is no discounting the appeal of rhyme when reading to children.

The Arctic Nursery Rhyme early in the book piqued my curiosity right away:
Arctic Tundra, Arctic Tundra,
How does your garden grow?
With lupine seeds and fireweeds
And bearberries all in a row.

And at the back of the book, we have notes about Arctic Lupine, Fireweed and Bearberries. Three things I had not heard of until this book!

Narwhal Sighting easily became Ana's favorite poem in the book, especially with bold large illustration of one poking out from the icy Arctic:
What is that in the Arctic sea?
That creature with a single horn?
Some sailors saw it long ago
And thought it was a unicorn.

And, at the back of the book, in the notes, we find out that only male narwhals have this horn which is actually a tooth! No one knows what it is used for...

In Racing The Peregrine Falcon, we discover that the peregrine falcon is the fastest creature in the world:
Faster than a school bus,
Faster than a hare.
Faster than a race car,
Faster than a bear.
Faster than a cheetah -
The awesome peregrine.
I think I'll save my running shoes
For races I can win!

It wouldn't be fair for me to present all the poems here. Hopefully the sample above speaks for the rest of the book.

We learn about the only white whale, Beluga; the killer whale, Orca (which is actually a large dolphin); the Arctic Tern which happens to be the long-distance champion of the world flying from Arctic to Antarctic and back again following the summer sun...

We learn about the Tundra Wolf, Musk Ox, Ptarmigan... Polar Bear, Caribou, even Snow Fleas and Orange-Golden Bumblebee... and the iceberg!

All in simple verse, accompanied by stark illustrations.

Some poems are short and warm, some set the heart racing with its rhythm and meter (especially, Caribou Coming). Some just flow like a gentle brook while some make us chuckle.

The permanent harsh coldness of the Arctic seems like a tough place to sustain life. And it is. But we learn about the animals and plants that have adapted and evolved to survive there. It seems like a good starting point to learn about geography and biology of the world we live in.

Every time we've read the book so far, I've not been able to get away with skipping the notes section at the back of the book. This is a book I want to add to our home library, and look forward to reading to my toddler in a couple of years.


Playing by the book said...

This sounds fantastic! I've got a bit of a thing for the far north anyway (one of my favourite books for grown ups is Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez - so stunningly written), so I'll definitely be adding this to my wishlist! Thanks for the tip.

ranjani.sathish said...

Awesome pick Sheela ! Loved the idea of the book and it is a revelation that the penegrin falcon is the fastest creature ! This lead to lot of animated discussions between me and Sooraj :-).

I think this is a book which I can share with both my kids !

Choxbox said...

Nice pick Sheela. Loved that rhyme about the falcon! Wish list getting loong!

Anusha said...

I think we picked this up early last year, but it didn't leave much of an impact then...but your review has inspired me to try again. placed a hold! thanks, Sheela!

Sheela said...

::Playing by the book::Something we have in common - love for the far north - going to Alaska which is a hop-step-jump away from me is itself a dream... unrealized so far :)

::Ranjani::I was curious because I've read a few Eileen Spinelli books to the kids and they didn't become instant hits... but this seemed to have enough interesting information offered in a very simple way... I am still chuckling about you and Sooraj - "Cheetah is still the fastest land animal" I remember reminding myself when I read about Peregrine :)

::ChoxBox::What I liked was its simplicity for the 4 to 5 year olds - easy words, yet challenges them a bit, and offers amazing tidbits about other creatures.

::KM::I can totally see the book not making an impact when not ready for it - I was quite surprised how much Ana took to it - didn't expect it, really... I guess it helped that she has been studying N.A. biomes in her class and was receptive...

Marian said...

Lepus arcticus, or arctic hare, also known as polar rabbit, are a kind or specie of hare that is most likely to find in mountainous and polar habitat. Thick fur coat is the reason of survival of this animal in such harsh environment...

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