Thompson, Lauren. 2004. POLAR BEAR NIGHT. Ill. by Stephen Savage. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 0439495245 [Suggested Grade Levels Pre K – 2]
POLAR BEAR NIGHT is an engaging bedtime story about family and love. The story follows a polar bear cub that is curious about the world around her. The cub is awakened during the night and wanders about, seeing the walruses, seals and whales, as well as the magical night sky that she lives about. In the following passage, the stars she sees amuse the bear:
“They light up everything/The little bear loves.
And the little bear shines bright/With light, too.”
There is no particular formula to Thompson’s language, but the sentiment is clear that the bear loves, is loved and has a deep understanding of family. Once the bear is satisfied that everything in her world is at peace, she is ready for sleep and goes home to her mother. The story is told effortlessly and readers, both children and adults, will take pleasure in it.
As beautiful as Thompson’s story is, Stephen Savages’ pictures are equally moving. The polar bear’s world is conveyed in simple, undemanding shapes but each page evokes strong emotion. Cool colors are used to portray the cold arctic night, but in all pages the sky shines welcomingly and the animal’s faces are all given kind and soothing facial features. The book’s calming nature is sure to ease children into bed with guaranteed sweet dreams.
Bedtime stories have long been a favorite of children. Develop a personal bedtime story based on the children, their families or make believe animals. Illustrate the story with ink drawings or cut out simple shapes that are similar to the illustrations in POLAR BEAR NIGHT.
The polar bear was not ready to sleep at the beginning of the story, so she decided to take a walk. Invite children to share what activities help them get ready for bed.
Other bedtime stories:
Brown, Margaret Wise. GOODNIGHT MOON. ISBN 0064430170
McBratney, Sam. GUESS HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU? ISBN 076360013X
By Lisa Erickson