Big bear huffs kick off this Arctic tale, set in a frozen world of snow and ice where polar bears Iris and Isaac are experiencing friendship woes. But will the chilly atmosphere soon melt away?
An unfortunate tussle at playtime, where Iris’s snow nest is accidentally squashed by Isaac, creates a frosty mood that incites two friends to storm off in opposite directions. But as they wander off, the sights and sounds of their snowy surroundings remind them of happier times together.
Familiarity breeds contempt and spending too much time together proves to be testing for best friends Iris and Isaac. But on the flip side, as the saying also goes, absence makes the heart grow fonder…
As Iris sees a flock of Eiders soaring in the sky, she can’t wait to tell Isaac – but alas, he’s not there. Then when Isaac spies two Arctic foxes frolicking together, he’s eager to share the moment with Iris – but she’s nowhere to be seen. Suddenly each begins to realise the joy of sharing their experiences and the value of their friendship. Perhaps it’s time to make up.
In this sweet story about friendship, Catherine Rayner’s wonderful depictions of her ursine heroes are elegant but also playful and child-like (not least in their temperamental stroppiness). Her gorgeous images also perfectly capture the serene beauty of the natural landscape and its soft dreamy colours, from the dark blue-green shades of an echoey cave to the magical glow creating by the Aurora Borealis Northern lights.
The ups and downs of Iris and Isaac’s friendship is chronicled from their initial tiff to their final happy reunion, where they rebuild a snow nest that’s big enough for two! What happens in between gives Rayner a chance to feature a host of other Arctic wildlife and showcase the breathtaking beauty of a stunning natural world.
Fun fact Polar bears have black skin and although their fur appears white, it is actually transparent, but it reflects light giving its distinct white appearance. The hollow fur also traps the sun’s heat to help keep the polar bear warm.
Did you know? Polar bears have their own day – National Polar Bear Day – on February 27. We’re not sure how they celebrate but, despite the popular myth, we doubt if it is by cracking open a bottle of Coca-Cola and watching the Aurora Burealis light show. Incidentally, the polar bear’s association with Coca-Cola has a long history, dating back to 1922 when a French poster featured a polar bear cooling down in the sun with a refreshing Coca-Cola.
* MORE FROM CATHERINE RAYNER * Read our review of Augustus and his Smile.
Author notes Award-winning author and illustrator Catherine Rayner studied Illustration at Edinburgh College of Art. She fell in love with the city and still lives there with her husband and young son. Catherine finds huge artistic inspiration in her pets and often uses them as models. Catherine won the 2009 CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal for Harris Finds His Feet, and has been shortlisted four times for the award. She was also awarded the Best New Illustrator Award at the Booktrust Early Years Awards in 2006 and was named one of Booktrust’s ten Best New Illustrators in 2008. In 2010, she was the inaugural illustrator in residence at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Her book Iris and Isaac won the UK Literacy Association Book Award in 2012.