A dream-like adventure set in the far north which will have you getting out on the ice.
Twelve-year-old Marv Jackson is a marvel. That’s what the inhabitants of the Isle of Bears call him, and not just for his prowess on the ice hockey rink. On his fifth birthday, he survived a polar bear attack, which left him with a moon-shaped scar and a reputation as “the boy who fought a bear– and lived to see sunrise.” However, something else happened on that night, something that no one would believe. Just before the attack, he saw a baby lost on the ice. What follows is an adventure that solves the mystery.
There’s something about the far north, snow and bears which lends itself so well to folk and fairy tales. The setting both real and unreal revels in nature. And along with Burnell’s dreamy prose, glints like snow. The story is split between two narratives. One with Marv as he impresses on the hockey rink, and the other with a girl, Tuesday, who performs in a travelling circus with her polar bear, Promise. Tuesday, a figure-skater, contrasts with Marv’s ice hockey skating. However, both instil that element of freedom and magic in the story.
Apart from the story, which charms the reader with its fairytale-like feel, the book also introduces some very real themes. Questions arise about performing animals, and also environmental issues about climate change and habitats.
I also want to mention the illustrator, Sandra Dieckmann, whose artwork helps create a magical wintery feel.
A great class read for upper juniors, especially if there’s an arctic or fairytales topic. Or simply a great read for any school or class library that UKS2 children will find spellbinding as well.
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