north

North: The Amazing Story of Arctic Migration by Nick Dowson, illustrated by Patrick Benson

This poetic look at the amazing Arctic starts with the deep winter and the few animals who survive there year round.  Then spring comes to the Arctic and the sun comes back along with some warmth.  Plants start to appear from under the snow.  Soon more animals will arrive.  The first to head out on their journey are the gray whales, that swim from Mexico to the Arctic Circle.  Birds head north too in flocks.  Herds of pregnant caribou journey north, followed closely by the gray wolves looking for weakness.  Walrus, narwhal, schools of fish, all of this life crowds the Arctic summer until the weather turns cold and brutal again, and once more they head back around the world.

Dowson’s words are poetry in this book.  Not only written in verse form, they also speak to the soul of the Arctic, the beauty of the place and the glory of the creatures who live there.  At the same time, the words are scientific and filled with information about the place and the animals.  It is an elegant combination of poem and fact.

Benson’s art is striking.  He created paintings that are both natural and accurate but also have a sense of artistry.  Much of the art is about the landscape, the place itself and the grand amount of space there.  The illustrations of bitter winter are cold and bleak with dim, gray light.  Then the reader turns the page and it is spring with its lemony light and sprigs of green.  The change is striking to the reader and beautifully captured.  There are moments like this throughout the book.

A striking mix of poetry, art and science, this book will speak to a range of different children looking to understand their world a little better.  Appropriate for ages 5-7.

Reviewed from library copy.