________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 8 . . . . December 10, 2004


Out on the Ice in the Middle of the Bay.

Peter Cumming. Illustrated by Alice Priestley.
Toronto, ON: Annick Press, 1993/2004.
32 pp., pbk. & cl., $8.95 (pbk.), $19.95 (lib. bnd.).
ISBN 1-55037-870-8 (pbk.), ISBN 1-55037-871-6 (lib. bnd.).

Preschool-grade 3 / Ages 4-8.

Review by Lorraine Douglas.

**** /4


Out on the ice in the middle of the bay, Leah was wandering, Baby Nanook was roaming, the sun was sinking, the moon was climbing, the iceberg just standing, when all of a sudden...

Little Leah saw Baby Nanook.

Baby Nanook saw little Leah.

Leah's feet were stinging with cold. Baby Nanook looked cuddly and warm, like her toy bear. But this bear was big-and this bear moved.

Leah walked slowly to the bear.

Baby Nanook cocked his head, studying this curious little walking creature.

Leah reached out and touched Baby Nanook's thick fur, then curled up in a ball at his feet. Baby Nanook crouched down and toyed with Leah, batting her gently back and forth between his paws. Leah snuggled into the warm circle of his chest and legs. Baby Nanook nuzzled her tiny body. He didn't know what to make of her.

internal artThis reissue celebrates the tenth anniversary of this picture book's first publication in 1993. The gentle, rhythmical text describes how a little girl named Leah wanders away from her home and her napping father towards an iceberg in the bay. At the same time, a polar bear cub named Baby Nanook saunters away from his sleeping mother towards the same iceberg. When the parents awake, both Leah's father and the mother polar bear search frantically for their offspring. The parents dramatically confront each other and just then Leah and Baby Nanook appear and are rescued.

     This is an excellent story for reading aloud to a group because of its lyrical and repetitive patterning of phrases. It was nominated for the Mr. Christie's award, and the luminous and atmospheric illustrations done in colour pencil were also nominated for the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Award. The illustrations glow with a golden light and are delicately and carefully layered with soft edges and brilliantly coloured skies. A decorative frieze containing Arctic motifs runs across the bottom of the pages. This lovely reissue will be welcomed by a new generation who will enjoy its drama and loving resolution.

Highly Recommended.

Lorraine Douglas was the Youth Services Coordinator for the Winnipeg Public Library and is now retired. She is an artist and writer living in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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