Friday, November 8, 2013

"I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see."
                                            ~John Burroughs

Title:  Polarity Bear Tours the Zoo
Author:  Sue de Cuevas
Illustrator:  Wendy Rasmussen
Ages:  3-8

First off let me say that the illustrations in this picture book are simply stunning.  The expressions and detail bring life to the text and make you feel like you are looking through a photo album rather than through a book.  Exquisite would be an appropriate word to describe them, and yes, I am jealous.

Now about the story.  Polarity Bear is a very lonely and bored bear indeed.  You see she is housed in the Central Park Zoo, in a cramped cage where she is nothing more than a spectacle to the passer-bys.  She is all alone and has nothing to occupy her time.  One night due to a magical fluke she makes her escape and celebrates in her surroundings.

Her first stop is the sea lion pool where she indulges in a swim herself.  The sea lions play a game with her causing her to turn black and blue, so she wisely makes her escape from them and continues on her journey.  Her tour then leads her passed caged monkeys and birds which she  cordially greets. She wanders along and is mesmerized by the Delacorte Clock she encounters. She dances and spins and mirrors the movement of the clock, all the while experiencing a great feeling of freedom, frivolity and pure joy .  However, her out-of-control dance antics force her to give up and continue  on her adventure, passed trees and bushes until she stops before the park's famous Carousel.  Her eyes shine with delight as she gears up and hops on board for the ride of her life.

Polarity learns a great life lesson that night in the midst of her holiday celebration. She realizes that the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence, or in her case, her cage.  She decides then and there that she needs to go back to her cage, appreciate the habitat she has been given, and like Dorothy, in the Wizard of Oz, declare unequivocally that ..."There is no place like home."  

 On her return Polarity finds out she is in for a life-changing surprise that will bring her unending happiness, contentment and gratefulness for the rest of her days.

This sweet bedtime story is told in lyrical verse and is great for both young, budding readers to read  on their own or as a perfect read aloud for story time or bedtime.  I highly recommend this book.

About the author:

Sue de Cuevas has been telling children’s stories all her life, but this is the first one she wrote down. As Sue Lonoff, she spent thirty years as a teacher and administrator at Harvard University, retiring in 2011. She also writes scholarly books and articles and is a specialist on the Brontë sisters.

About the Illustrator:

Some of my earliest memories of childhood are of ceaseless drawing and the exploration of my environment. Drawing came naturally to me and my love of nature and science helped me develop a keen eye for observation. Most of my interests were a melding of science, animals and art. I knew from an early age that somehow I wanted to use my talent as an artist to carve out a career.
Having grown up as an only child on a farm in southern New Jersey, I was surrounded by the subject matter that often appears in my work today. My father, a Danish immigrant, was gifted with the Scandinavian art of storytelling and my imagination was infused with tales of trolls and ancient folklore. I loved drawing animals, insects and especially trees. I drew portraits of my friends, my parents, my dog and cat and of course horses. My interest in illustrating children’s books blossomed during this time and has persisted throughout my life.
My other passion was science and I combined the two areas of interest and graduated college with a BA in biology and art. Upon graduation I embarked on a career as an art director in advertising that lasted for almost 16 years. A majority of my advertising career was involved in the field of medical and health care. During this time I found that I was fascinated by surgical techniques involving the products that we advertised and was given the opportunity to illustrate one of these techniques…the client was thrilled and I embarked on another facet of my artistic career.
An opportunity to leave advertising and start my own studio finally arose in 1989, at which time I created Mill Race Studio. Initially my projects involved design, marker comps as well as illustration but in 1995 I decided to concentrate on illustration exclusively. I maintained my medical clients and signed on with Wilkinson Studios, Inc. to rep my children’s illustrations.
That was 12 years ago and I am still immersed in the dichotomy of maintaining two seemingly opposite areas of interest…and loving every minute of it.

                  Book Review Rating:  9 (Close to perfection!)

Read on and read always!   Happy reading and happy Friday to you.

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