CM March 15, 
1996. Vol. II, Number 22

image Nanook and Naoya:
The Polar Bear Cubs.

Angele Delaunois. Translated by Mary Shelton.
Photographs by Fred Bruemmer.
Victoria: Orca Book Publishers, 1995. 48pp, paper, $9.95.
ISBN: 1-55143-048-7. CIP.

Subject Heading:
Polar bear-Infancy-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3 - 6 / Ages 8 - 11.
Review by Jane Robinson.



July to September: The summer of waiting

Pushed by the north winds, what remains of the ice pack is scattered in blocks of ice on the ocean towards the southwest. Scattered too are the seals who fish off the coasts in the mild season.

All the bears have gone back to dry land. In late fall, when the cold will once more imprison the bay in its shackles of ice, they will set off again to chase seals. But from now until then they have to be satisfied with the meagre pittance that the northern summer grudgingly offers to the largest carnivore on earth.

 Originally written in French, this is a translation by Mary Shelton of Nanook et Naoya, les oursons polaires. The author, Angele Delaunois, has written several other non-fiction French books about animals. This English translation accompanies two other books from Orca in the same collection (but not by the same author) -- one about a whale and the other about a baby seal.

Nanook and Naoya follows two real polar bear cubs from their birth in the dead of winter to the beginning of another winter five years later as they reach adulthood. Organized around the seasons, information about the polar bear's habitat, lifestyle, and habits is conveyed as the reader watches Nanook, his sister Naoya, and their mother survive in Cape Churchill's harsh northern environment.

Geared for an elementary school audience as a research resource and a fascinating true story, this book's usefulness and enjoyment is marred by wordiness. The text is too long, the style too sophisticated, the language too ornate and the sentences too complex. Only the most patient and knowledgeable of readers or listeners will be able to locate information or follow the story. There is no index to help organize for research and the twenty-word glossary (containing many Inuit words) only begins to scratch the surface.

Forty-one remarkable photographs by internationally acclaimed wildlife photographer Fred Bruemmer accompany the text. Insightful and revealing, these images allow us glimpses of natural wonder -- both land and beast. The photographs alone may be worth the price of the book, but it is not recommended as useful addition to a research collection.

Jane Robinson is a teacher in Winnipeg.

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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364