A Polar Bear in the Snow by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Shawn Harris (9781536203967)
A polar bear emerges from the snow, only appearing when he lifts his black nose to the air and opens his black eyes. He journeys across the snowy polar landscape. The narrator wonders where he is going. Maybe to visit the white seals also playing in the snow? No, he is not hungry. Maybe he will hide from the snowstorm in a cave? No, his fur protects him. He also won’t meet a man out on the ice, opening his mouth to growl loudly. It turns out, he is heading for the water to swim and play. After that, who knows where he is heading next.
Barnett uses so few words on the page here. His restraint and focus are masterful, keeping the word count low. His questions about what the bear is doing also invite young readers to ask questions about this book and others they read. To have plenty of curiosity and wonder about books and the world around them. The ending too allows for that curiosity to continue after the book is done.
Harris’ illustrations are subtle in their use of white and shades of white. He uses paper collage to create caves, subtle changes of angle and texture, mountains, and more. When blue is introduced as the bear reaches the sea, there is a tranquility from that color, a celebration that the bear enjoys too.
Restrained, gorgeous and full of amazing moments. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Candlewick.