Virgil and Owen by Paulette Bogan

cover image

Bloomsbury, 2015. ISBN 9781619633728
(Age: 3+) Recommended. Arctic and Antarctic animals. Friendship. Virgil finds a lost polar bear and claims him for his own. He takes him with him but is dismayed when the bear plays with the other animals on the ice and snow covered land. He splashes with the terns, slides with the seals, plays with the penguins, and each time Virgil reminds him that he belongs to him. Owen stands his ground and tells Virgil that he is called Owen, and turns to play with the other animals. Virgil goes away disappointed until the whole group comes to ask him to join them. He has found the meaning of friendship and what it means to have friends.
In soft watercolours with lots of differing shades of blue, the Antarctic is brought to life for the younger reader. They will be able to spot the different animals that live in this cold region of the earth and it might be worth pointing out to your readers that polar bears are Arctic animals while penguins live in the Antarctic, so Owen is well and truly lost.
The theme behind this story is one all children will instantly recognise, of not smothering someone you like, of giving your friend room to be themselves, of not taking up all their time. Teachers and parents alike will be able to discuss this issue with the readers alerting them in a funny way to the ways that friendship can occur and the barriers to that developing relationship.
Fran Knight