Just last week another Teacher-Librarian and I were talking about special non fiction books with exquisite illustrations and a rich narrative style.Today I spied this book in my local public library. North is an excellent example of this 'genre'. Patrick Benson has created the Arctic world so vividly you will almost feel cold reading this glorious book.
"At the very top of our world is a huge wild place called the Arctic. Here in winter, the sun sinks away, blizzards fill the darkness and even the seas freeze deep."
It is winter and the only animals stirring in this harsh expanse are the polar bear and arctic fox but when spring comes plants appear along with visitors from the far reaches of the world. Grey whales from Mexico, terns from Antarctica and godwits from New Zealand.
There are lots of other birds too such as snow geese and white cranes. Pregnant caribou arrive with hungry wolves close behind. We see walrus and the mysterious narwhal.
"By late May, travellers crowd together near the very top of the world where even the coldest frozen seas are melting."
Babies are born and new life abounds but then the seasons cycle again. Days grow shorter. "Soon all the visitors will journey south - back to where they winter" leaving behind polar bear, fox, musk ox and arctic hare to "roam the frozen night alone."
On the final pages of North you can read brief facts about the Arctic. Over 180 different animals migrate there every year in spring. Sadly this important cycle is threatened by global warming. Nick Dowson also includes a glossary and index - important features in a non fiction book.
If you are unfamiliar with the work of Patrick Benson take a look at these:
Night sky Dragons
The Little Boat
You could also look for an excellent book about the migration of the godwit by Jeannie Baker called Circle. This book is another example of a non fiction text with amazing art work and a narrative text.
Here are some other books in this style which explore the Arctic and the animals of this unique region.