Review Blog

Feb 15 2016

Poles apart by Jeanne Willis

cover image

Ill. by Peter Jarvis. Nosy Crow, 2014. ISBN 9780857634924
Picture book. Everyone knows that penguins are found at the South Pole not the North Pole. But when the Pilchard-Browns get lost on the way to their picnic. things change. Mr and Mrs and Peeky, Poots and Pog find themselves floating on an iceberg that drifts through days and nights until they discover a strange something on another iceberg. It turns out to be Mr White the polar bear who tells them that the South Pole is 12 430 miles in the opposite direction!
But Mr White has always wanted to go to the South Pole and so the Pilchard-Browns follow Mr White - always on the lookout for a picnic place. The ice floe they are on isn't safe with killer whales floating around, and America was too busy - and it wasn't home. Even though England was charming it still wasn't home. And so the journey continues, through countries large and small as they make their way south. But still no place is home, not even for Mr White.
This is a quirky story, aptly named for the theme that runs through it that even though we can follow our dreams there is a place for each of us that is home. Just as we journey through life we can meet many different types who can still be friends even though everything about us is poles apart. It could be a good read-aloud for new students starting school for the first time to show that friends can come from many different places, as well as reaching out to those new to this country so they can see themselves in a story. It might even serve as a vehicle for a class version - if Mr White and the Pilchard-Browns visited all the countries represented in our class, where would they go? It could be an engaging introduction to getting to know each other, as well as mapping.
More to this than meets the eye.
Barbara Braxton

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