On Our Shelves Now
A majestic polar bear heads out on a mysterious walk in a dazzling, playful collaboration from an exciting pair of picture-book creators.
Follow a magnificent polar bear through a fantastic world of snow and shockingly blue sea. Over the ice, through the water, past Arctic animals and even a human . . . where is he going? What does he want? Acclaimed author Mac Barnett’s narration deftly balances suspense and emotion, as well as poignant, subtle themes, compelling us to follow the bear with each page turn. Artist Shawn Harris’s striking torn-paper illustrations layer white-on-white hues, with bolts of blue and an interplay of shadow and light, for a gorgeous view of a stark yet beautiful landscape. Simple and thought-provoking, illuminating and intriguing, this engaging picture book will have readers pondering the answer to its final question long after the polar bear has continued on his way.
About the Author
Mac Barnett is the author of several books for children, including Extra Yarn, illustrated by Jon Klassen, which won a Caldecott Honor and a Boston Globe–Horn Book Award; Sam and Dave Dig a Hole and The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse, both also illustrated by Jon Klassen; and President Taft Is Stuck in the Bath, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen. Mac Barnett lives in California.
Shawn Harris is an artist and musician who began his career by doing record and poster art for his band, the Matches, in 2003. Since then he has created art for musicians such as Adele, Snoop Dogg, and 311. His first picture book, Her Right Foot, was written by Dave Eggers. Shawn Harris lives in Morongo Valley, California.
The captivating cut-paper–and-ink illustrations are appropriately atmospheric, offering varied perspectives. They perfectly suit the prose’s quiet grandeur, and occasional blank or nearly blank pages suggest a completely snow-blanketed bear. The art reflects the peace, solitude, and colors of the Arctic habitat and depicts other wildlife that reside there, such as seals on which polar bears prey and arctic foxes. Charming, scenic, and a winning must for the youngest polar bear lovers.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
The four spreads depicting his undersea adventures are particularly appealing, portraying the bear swimming playfully among a myriad of sea creatures. With a snarky ending that Barnett readers have come to expect ("Where will he go then? / Who knows?"), this can be widely shared with little ones participating in one-on-one lap sits and toddler story hours to those beginning to read independently.
—Booklist (starred review)
The questions the text asks are a great hook for children, who can listen for cues and become part of the storytelling. The effective paper-cut collage scenes of the polar bear contrast with the blue of the ocean, complete with an ebullient underwater view of the bear swimming with fish. An engaging, easy-to-read tale, perfect for winter story hours.
—School Library Journal (starred review)
In photographed collages, the shadows of superimposed forms offer a sense of depth and even distance. The polar bear approaches the sea, leaps in, and dives and spins. One mesmerizing spread views the bear deep underwater, sun shining through the depths, surrounded by fish. Barnett’s humor, just right for littlest readers, adds warmth, while Harris concentrates on the elemental beauty of Arctic life with minimalist forms add simple textures that contrast the fragility of the paper with the strength of the bear.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Barnett (The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse, rev. 11/17) and Harris (Her Right Foot, rev. 11/17) have created an understated, reflective, and loving portrayal that also serves as a celebration of wonder and wandering.
—The Horn Book
Layers of rough, grainy paper create snowdrifts as well as simply cut creatures, and touches of shadow and black pigment are almost the only contrast until the bear goes into a literal deep dive and everything, including the bear himself, turns into an inviting sky blue.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books