Review of Polar Bear

Polar BearPolar Bear
by Candace Fleming; illus. by Eric Rohmann
Primary    Porter/Holiday    32 pp.    g
11/22    978-0-8234-4916-3    $18.99
e-book ed.  978-0-8234-5435-8    $11.99

Showcasing another fascinating animal (Giant Squid, rev. 9/16; Honeybee, rev. 3/20), and with their usual dynamism and immediacy, Fleming and ­Rohmann turn their attention to polar bears, specifically a year in the life of one female and her two cubs. In April the mother emerges from the den in which she’s been nursing for four months. Her stored fat has sustained her, her milk providing nourishment for the cubs. But now it’s time to eat, and she guides her cubs to Hudson Bay, where she can position herself on the ice to hunt. By June the mother and cubs have grown bigger and stronger, but they “must fatten up now…to survive summer’s lean months.” An attempt to capture “one last meal” causes the ice to break, and the trio drifts far out into the bay. Their swim back to shore is arduous and dangerous for the cubs (the long passage of time is revealed in a dramatic gatefold); once back on land, they must wait until the bay refreezes, which shortens the feeding calendar. Rohmann’s early oil paintings depict the bear as an apex predator, but Fleming’s straightforward text makes it clear that this creature faces potentially fatal danger—even the most powerful animal cannot overcome the grave threat of habitat loss. “Too much ice is melting too soon. And too little ice means too little food.” Back matter addresses climate change head-on, while a diagram explains how the bear’s physiology helps it survive. Ten “cool facts” about polar bears, a list of websites, and a selected bibliography complete this outstanding book.

From the November/December 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Betty Carter
Betty Carter, an independent consultant, is professor emerita of children’s and young adult literature at Texas Woman’s University.

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