Monday, May 23, 2011

Nonfiction Monday: Polar Bear, Shrinking Ice by Stephen Person

Like most books being published about Arctic animals, especially polar bears, this book is as much about global warming and climate change as it is about the animals themselves. The book begins with BJ Kirschhoffer, a scientist studying polar bears, noticing that the bears in Churchill, Canada, were skinny and starving. We then move on to an explanation of the polar bears' habitat and how their bodies are uniquely built to survive in the harsh conditions of the Arctic.

We see how the polar bears stay warm - and cool - and the way they have adapted to life on the ice. We learn a little about the polar bear's chief prey, ringed seals, and how they and the polar bears co-exist. There is some basic information on polar bear reproduction and the teaching and growth of the cubs. Finally, we return to Kirschhoffer's research and his findings that polar bears are starving because of shrinking ice. There are several pages on global warming and climate change and how researchers believe this is affecting the Arctic ice and polar bears.

More polar bear facts, as well as sections on ringed seals and Arctic foxes are included at the back. There is a glossary, bibliography, index, and further reading as well as a link to the publisher's website for this series.

There are plenty of fun photographs of polar bears and their habitat, maps, charts, and more. I do find it a little annoying when the text says "most scientists believe" several times in regard to global warming but doesn't give any information of what the unnamed minority say, but this is a fairly short book, 32 pages, and there isn't space to get into the complexities of climate change. I would like to see what the other books in this series; Built for Cold: Arctic Animals, include. Do they repeat the global warming information, or do they focus exclusively on the titular animal?

Verdict: Polar bears are a popular animal and Bearport's nonfiction is, as usual, nicely photographed and full of the information kids love. I would recommend this series if you need additional Arctic animal books or to update your collection.

ISBN: 9781617721298; Published January 2011 by Bearport; Review copy provided by publisher

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