Monday, March 26, 2012

North: The Amazing story of Arctic Migration by Nick Dowson, illustrated by Patrick Benson

It's difficult to find really good easy nonfiction, suitable for reading aloud. Ever since I started including at least one nonfiction title in my Preschool Interactive programs, I have been on a quest to find these elusive titles.

This makes it all the more exciting when I find a really amazing one like North! Simple, lyrical prose tells the story of the animals who migrate from across the world to the Arctic tundra as it slowly comes to life and blooms in the spring and summer.

The text is the perfect length to hold the attention of readers as young as preschool. The longest sections of text are still brief enough to read aloud easily,
     "Some of the first to leave on their journey are gray whales. This one is young. Water slides over her barnacled head as she glides through the blue of a Mexican lagoon--over crabs and sand, past boats and other whales, and out into the cold roll of the Pacific Ocean. For eight long weeks, she'll swim north without feeding..."
These longer sections of text are broken up by spreads with only a few words, or no words at all.

The art and design of the book is also amazing. Benson's pen, pencil and watercolor artwork brings out the details of the various animals and the homes they migrate from. The artwork and text builds together to a triumphant conclusion, showing the teeming life at the height of summer in a place many people think of as cold and dead. The overall design begins with a grey and stark view of the planet from outer space, then the swirling snow and barren landscape. At the end of the story, as the migrating animals leave, the landscape fades again to greys and whites and then returns to the view from outer space.

The book includes an afterword with more information about the Arctic, some websites, a glossary, and index.

Verdict: This book is amazing on so many levels; stunning artwork and exquisite text make it a book that parents and librarians will enjoy reading aloud and kids will relish hearing and seeing. Highly recommended.

ISBN: 9780763652715; Published November 2011 by Candlewick; Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library


Sue Heavenrich said...

Definitely a luscious book... makes you realize just how fast summer happens in the arctic.

Perogyo said...

Want! I remember living so close and watching the migration every year. It doesn't really happen where I live, animals smartly avoid my area due to volcanic ash.