Written and Illustrated by Sarah Fox-Davies.
Preschool - grade 3 / Ages 3 - 8.
In the far north of North America, at the edge of the frozen Arctic Ocean, is a land without trees called the high tundra. There, in early spring, as the snow is melting, a little caribou calf is born. Her mother, Cow Caribou, urges her to stand on her shaky new legs.The idea behind the story of Little Caribou is a good one: the book starts with the birth of a caribou calf and follows it through its first year of life in the far north. However, I find this book lacks the spark that invites a second or third reading.
Little Caribou is born on the frozen tundra, travels thousands of miles with the caribou herd, is confronted by flies in the heat of summer, is taught to find food in the snow fields, swims across cold rivers and meets people of the north.
I thought something exciting was going to happen when the flies were troublesome, but Cow Caribou and the herd simply ran to the snow fields in the hills. The challenges of keeping up with the herd for thousands of miles and swimming across rivers are mentioned, but simply as facts. Even confrontation with people is friendly and uneventful. It's great to see that people do live peacefully with wildlife but I guess I just wanted some excitement.
The watercolour illustrations are well executed, capturing realistic views of the tundra. The front cover illustration and the one of Little Caribou nursing are particularly well done as one witnesses communication between Little Caribou and Cow Caribou. The illustrations of the herd wandering about on the end pages and throughout the pages of the book flows nicely.
The illustrations of Little Caribou, Cow Caribou and the herd are mostly done from a middle distance perspective. It would have been nice, however, to have some closeups of the caribou as they deal with the flies or other aspects of life on the tundra in order to see their faces and, perhaps, understand the psychology of how they deal with these incidents.
The author/illustrator has studied natural history drawing and contributed illustrations to numerous field guides and gardening books. She has also illustrated several picture books, including Moon Frog: Animal Poems for Young Children by Richard Edwards.
Despite the fact that the language in Little Caribou flows along almost musically, and despite the fact that describing the centuries-old nomadic life of the caribou is a good idea, too little happens in this book to bring me back for another read.
Recommended with reservations.
Naomi Gerrard has been fascinated with children's literature for years and is a reviewer for the Amelia Frances Howard Gibbon Award. She is a member of CANSCAIP.
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Copyright © 1996 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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