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Here Is the Arctic Winter


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About the Author

Madeleine Dunphy is an educational consultant who teaches children about endangered environments. She has studied and visited many of the world's ecosystems, and was inspired to write books about our world's great diversity of life. She lives in Oakland, California with her husband, Chris, and their daughter, Gwendolyn. For more information about Madeleine, her books, and her school presentations visit www.mdunphy.com. Alan James Robinson started the Cheloniidae Letterpress in Easthampton, Massachusetts, with the aim of preserving the fine art of bookmaking. A fine artist specializing in wildlife imagery, Alan's work appears in many rare and fine print collections around the world. He lives in West Hatfield, Massachusetts. For more information about Alan's work visit www.alanjamesrobinson.com.


This unusual cumulative book begins with a stark, black-edged painting of the vast, moonlit, arctic landscape: ``Here is the sky / that is dark day and night, / where the sun does not rise / in this cold world of white: / Here is the Arctic winter.'' Each turn of the page highlights another arctic creature, generally named in the order it appears on the food chain--the wolves ``who howl at the sky,'' the caribou ``that flee from the wolves,'' and so on. A useful back page contains outlines of each animal and the address of the National Audubon Society's Arctic Program. Robinson's picture book debut impresses at the outset, with a striking jacket illustration of a lone polar bear stalking across a midnight-dark snowscape--inside are even more breathtaking scenes populated with dazzling animals. Dunphy's opening lines contain a lyrical simplicity and elegance that is unfortunately not consistently maintained. The format seems to constrain the text in ways that sometimes make the relationships between animals seem spurious or confusing and the language unwieldly or awkward. Caveats aside, this luminous and reverent work is a welcome addition to the growing ranks of environmental books. Ages 3-8. (Apr.)

K-Gr 4-- Here is a lyrical look at the land and creatures of the Arctic during the ``endless night'' winter season. The illustrations are indeed dark: monochromatic midnight-blue paintings of individual creatures and stark Arctic landscapes, such as sea ice and northern lights. Polar bear, snowshoe hare, seal, and other creatures dominate. The ``whale'' will pique curiosity, since it appears as a tusked narwhal, while all others are easily identifiable. A pictorial glossary provides the animals' true names. Paintings are evocative, hushed, somber, and sophisticated--quite beautiful, but they lack interest and fail to mesh with the text. In The House That Jack Built tradition, the text is cumulative: ``Here is the willow, which is food for the caribou / that flee from the wolves . . . where the sun does not rise / in this cold world of white . . .'' followed by the title as refrain. Predictability of the verse suggests read-aloud potential, despite the fact that cumulative cadence is not quite achieved and rhyming is inconsistent. If a picture book is desired to accompany Arctic and/or environmental endangerment study, this unique but not outstanding one will work. --Valerie Lennox, Jacksonville Public Library, FL

Named a "Teachers' Choice" by the International Reading Association

Named an "Outstanding Science Trade Book for Children" by the National Science Teacher's Association and Children's Book Council

"This unusual cumulative book begins with a stark, black-edged painting of the vast, moonlit, arctic landscape . . . inside are even more breathtaking scenes populated with dazzling animals . . . this luminous and reverent work is a welcome addition to the growing ranks of environmental books."
Publishers Weekly

"In blue, black, and white illustrations, attributes of the Arctic winter unfold. Double-page spreads contain brief text describing an array of animals; lyrical and cumulative, the story is good for reading aloud."
The Horn Book

"Snowy owl and caribou, narwhal and polar bear, surviving in the ice at the end of the world. The hypnotic text and paintings by the renowned wildlife artist mark the collaborators' stunning debut."

"A beautifully illustrated book about the endangered Arctic and the animals strong enough to survive the Arctic's cold and dark winter. The lyrical repetitive text is an excellent introduction to exploratory or informational text for beginning readers. Excellent."
The Reading Teacher

"Looking for a great book to introduce young children to the web of life and how all living creatures are interconnected? Told as a lyrical cumulative tale with simple text, Here Is the Arctic Winter starts with the sky dark, all day and night, and returns there at the end, while highlighting many animals that can survive the harsh Arctic winters. All of the illustrations are done in shades of blue, black, and white and will immerse readers in the dark Arctic winter. The pages also have a deep blue border around them to heighten the feeling. As each species is highlighted, it is added to the lyrical text. The illustrations show the added animal and include others that may have been talked about earlier in the book. Included at the end are two pages of more detailed background for readers. This adds depth of understanding and extra facts for advanced readers. These facts, for instance, include that polar bears have two layers of fur and underneath that fur is four inches of blubber! The snowy owl's body is completely covered with soft, fluffy feathers with another coat of overlapping feathers on top. This book is great to read aloud, and children will probably memorize the text because it is so rhythmic and repetitive. Very young children will readily pick up this book and share it with others after having the book read to them. This is a great introduction to informational text for beginning readers. Children will read and reread this book and add to their understanding of the web of life."
Science and Children

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