CM . . .
. Volume XI Number 7 . . . . November 26, 2004
Shirley Woods, in his “Author's Acknowledgments,” expresses gratitude to a number of wildlife experts who helped him produce an accurate picture of the early life of an Arctic bear. He has certainly done so. Insofar as any animal, or human being for that matter, can be said to be typical, after reading Tooga, readers have a very clear idea of how a polar bear develops, is fed (or feeds himself), and manages life on a daily basis. It is a very interesting account, the more so because of Tooga's unintentional travels down the coast of Labrador on an ice floe (This is perhaps not entirely typical!). The black-and-white sketches by Muriel Wood greatly enhance the narrative.
What the book is not, however, is a good novel. None of the bears has, or develops, any real character in the course of the book. Woods was undoubtedly trying not to anthropomorphize his bears, trying not to give them human motivations and reasoning processes, but in so doing he has kept the reader from developing any emotional involvement with them. The result is a fine, well written project on polar bears. It is not a story to engage a reader looking for a gripping narrative, and nor is it a book to engage a reader strictly looking for facts about the polar bear since it is ninety pages of fairly dense text with only intermittent illustrations. Worthy books have a fairly limited audience.
Recommended with Reservations.
Mary Thomas works in, at the moment, three Winnipeg, MB, elementary school libraries, soon to be reduced to only two.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.