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Peter Cumming
Illustrated by Alice Priestley
Toronto, Annick Press, 1993. 32pp, library binding, ISBN 1-55037-276-9 (library binding) $15.95, ISBN 1-55037-277-7 (paper) $5.95
Distributed by Firefly Books. CIP

Pre-school to Grade 3/Ages 4 to 8

Reviewed by Kay Kerman.

Volume 21 Number 4
1993 September

Once again, Peter Gumming has come up with an excellent children's book that brings a region of Canada to life. This story will bring an awareness of the Arctic to all children who read it. The illustrations by Alice Priestly are extremely complementary.

There is a softness about this book that will appeal to all young children. It is the story of a young girl, Leah, and a polar bear cub who meet "out on the ice, in the middle of the bay," hence the title of the story.

Leah's father had warned her not to go onto the ice, "for there were polar bears nearby." The cub's mother had warned him not to wander away, "for there were humans nearby." But both were feeling lonely, bored and curious and were drawn, while their parents were resting, to an iceberg that stood "out on the ice, in the middle of the bay."

When Leah and the bear meet at the iceberg, she is feeling cold. Leah curls up in a ball at the bear's feet and he responds by nuzzling her tiny body while she sleeps. Needless to say, when her father awakens and the cub's mom awakens, they are both alarmed and head out to the iceberg to find their young ones. The reader is always aware of the urgency and the danger that the young ones are in. Interestingly, Gumming describes the feelings of both parents whose young ones are in danger.

Once reunited with her father, Leah stops him from shooting the bears. Leah and her father back away from the bears, but not without a cocked and unlowered rifle aimed at the bears. As the mother and her baby disappear and Leah and her father make their way home from across the ice, many headlights of snowmobiles can be seen approaching. Leah's mother and others from the community were coming to help. Eventually, everyone arrives home safely, if not a little shaken.

The soft pencil-drawn illustrations are perfect for this book. The details that are added are appropriate and accurate. Well done all around!

Other books by Peter Gumming are A Horse Called Farmer and Mogul and Me.

Highly recommended.

Kay Kerman teaches a combined Kindergarten and grade 1 class at Chelsea School in Chelsea, Quebec.
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