Review: The Ice Bear by Jackie Morris


The Ice Bear by Jackie Morris

Poetic and mystical, this picture book is a rich read.  In the beginning of time, people and animals were as one.  Two tiny polar bear cubs were born into the world and cared for by their mother bear in an ice cave.  But the mother was tricked, and Raven was able to steal one of the cubs away.  A hunter found Raven with a bundle of white fur.  Raven flew off, and the hunter picked up the bundle of fur and headed back home on his sled.  When he brought the furs into his home, he and his wife discovered a baby inside.  The two had wished for a child and here was one.  They raised him as their own.  When the child was seven years old, Raven returned and drew him out onto the ice and away from home.  There he almost froze to death, until the bears found him and took him away with them.  He is a boy of two families, two worlds, who must make a choice.

Morris proves here that she is just as radiant a writer as an illustrator.  Her story is told in words that make you slow down, savor them.  If you read them aloud, it reads as verse, a poem in paragraph form.  The world she creates is one of wonder and timelessness.  It is a world at birth, a world that mirrors our own, but is also filled with magic and connections.  She has created a picture book that is an invitation to dream.

Her illustrations have a lot to do with this too.  They capture the Arctic landscape in all of its blues, whites, and purples.  Then they also show the human family filled with the warmth of fire, furs and the snugness of their home.  But most powerful of all is the bear home, where it is still cold, but the heat and warmth comes from the animals themselves, shown powerful in creams and yellows and equally loving.

A gorgeous story that is both beautifully written and illustrated, this book is radiant.  Appropriate for ages 5-8.

Reviewed from library copy.

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