Title: The Polar Bear’s Gift
Written by Jeanne Bushey
Illustrated by Vladyana Langer Krykorka
Publishing: Northern Lights Books for Children (Red Deer Press), 2000
Audience: Ages 5 to 9
Themes: Polar Bears, Inuit, Canada, Kindness
“Please take me with you tomorrow, Ananna,” Pani begged as she sat beside her grandmother on their snow sleeping bench. “I want to help you bring food into our igloo.”
Pani, an Inuit child, and her grandmother, are eking out a living in the Great White North. The kindly grandmother is doing her best to raise Pani, whose parents were killed in a polar bear hunt. Pani longs to be a great hunter like her parents, but is laughed at, in a society where only men are deemed to be fit hunters. When she finds herself out on the ice, face-to-face with a badly injured polar cub, she must decide whether to let him die or help him. Deciding to assist the cub, the mother bear later rewards Pani with magic cloth and fur.
Why I Like It:
This is a lovely Inuit legend which highlights the northern people’s respect and dependence on animals. It’s a little jarring when the the cub suddenly begins speaking to Pani, so a pre-discussion about legends is probably in order. The illustrations are gorgeous, in a wash of purples, pinks and gold. I really love this story with its feel-good ending.
Book Related Activities:
1. Many Canadian curriculums promote WITS (a program to help children deal with conflicts). W=Walk Away. I=Ignore. T=Talk it Over. S=Seek Help.
This story can be used in relation to the “walk away” and “ignore” strategies. Click here to find further ideas.
2. National Geographic for Kids has some slides and great information on polar bears.
3. Here’s an easy experiment to explore how blubber keeps polar bears warm.
4. You could check out Crafty Morning for some sweet polar bear crafts
5. Check out this post for a review of the book Snow Bear. I’ve included lots of links to some really cute polar bear art works.
6. If you’re studying polar bears, here’s a fun idea using trioramas.
See Susanna Hill’s blog if you’d like to join the fun in Perfect Picture Book Friday.