Friday, Dec. 17, 2004

Polar Bear Night By Lauren Thompson - Pics by Stephen Savage

A cold, still night. An arctic expanse of sea and ice. A frosty moon above. In another book those could be elements of a lonely, scary adventure. Here they're the setting for a strangely soothing bedtime story, illustrated by charmingly simple drawings. A polar-bear cub ventures out of the cozy den where her mother sleeps, drawn by "something in the moonlit stillness [that] quietly beckons. What is it?" The air of expectancy and mystery builds as she passes other sleeping animals — walrus, seals, whales — and arrives atop a mountain of snow, where "she waits, wondering." The moon, her companion, waits with her. Then a spectacular shower of shooting stars lights up the world and the other animals, and the little bear shines bright too. After this moment of mystical harmony with nature, she trudges home to her mother's soft, warm fur. It's hard to say what all this means. Better to simply say, Good night, little cub.