Last Polar Bears

( 2 )


Grandfather is off on an expedition to the North Pole to find the Last Polar Bears and with him goes Roo - a dog of character and strong views. The intrepid explorers set sail on the good ship Unsinkable and embark on the adventure of a lifetime. Eccentric, moving and very funny, their story is told through a series of extraordinary letters.

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The Last Polar Bears

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Grandfather is off on an expedition to the North Pole to find the Last Polar Bears and with him goes Roo - a dog of character and strong views. The intrepid explorers set sail on the good ship Unsinkable and embark on the adventure of a lifetime. Eccentric, moving and very funny, their story is told through a series of extraordinary letters.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In this amusingly quirky chapter book, the late Horse (the Little Rabbit series) tracks an oddball expedition to find polar bears at the North Pole. Comprised of letters a grandfather sends to his grandchild, the story starts aboard a creaky ship (the Unsinkable), which carries him and his opinionated talking dog, Roo, from Aberdeen to the town of Walrus. Grandfather's missives describe storms at sea, a malfunctioning engine that Roo inadvertently fixes and Roo's farfetched yarns about her own seafaring grandfather ("She told us one in which he was swallowed by a whale and lived inside it for two years," writes Grandfather. "He at last escaped by climbing out of the blowhole, and swam all the way back to his ship. He later got a medal for it"). On land, the two encounter drunken wolves, a loner who makes animal sculptures from snow and an Arctic-dwelling penguin whom Grandfather adopts-all before the bear-seeking mission begins. Horse's droll wit extends to his delicate pen-and-ink illustrations, which keep the spotlight trained on the emotive Roo and her animal co-stars. Ages 6-10. (Oct.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature
After seeing a desolate polar bear at the zoo, Grandfather and his dog Roo decide to go on an adventure to the North Pole to find the last polar bears. The travelers leave in the middle of the night and head to Great Bear Ridge, where they feel certain that they will find the polar bears. Along the way, they run into many different obstacles and conflicts, such as a crazy captain on their ship and a blizzard that forces them to take refuge in an igloo and wait there, with no food, for several days. Harry Horse wrote the book as an epistolary novel, and the series of letters gives readers a firsthand synopsis of all the events of the journey. Children will enjoy Grandfather’s letters to his grandson in this delightful story of friendship and survival as Grandfather risks everything to find something about which he feels passionately. Reviewer: Kimberly Ballington
School Library Journal

Gr 1-4
In a series of letters to his grandchild, a 78-year-old man describes his expedition to the North Pole to see the Last Polar Bears before melting snowcaps destroy their habitat. He and his contrary dog, Roo, sail from England aboard the Unsinkable . Eventually, they reach their destination, a town called Walrus, population 17 ½. The bulk of the story takes place here, as Grandfather and Roo encounter unruly, drunk wolves who constantly demand the last of their dried fish, a snow poet and sculptor, and a penguin that Grandfather accidentally knocks out with a golf ball. When the sun and moon are side by side in the sky, Grandfather knows it's time to begin their trek up Great Bear Ridge, and Roo finally becomes useful, pulling the trolley (a golf bag on wheels) full of rations. On the 40th day of October, they reach the top and spy the objects of their quest. This fantasy has many bizarre elements, few of which hold much appeal for children, and the writing has a detached quality. Horse's black-and-white line drawings are full of whimsy, but they can't make up for the story's adult tone.
—Alison GrantCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
Not satisfied with seeing a lone polar bear in the zoo, Grandfather becomes determined to find the last polar bears in the wild before global warming spells their demise. For his quest, Grandfather enlists the help of Roo, his faithful, but sometimes high-maintenance pooch that talks. Together this odd pair travels from the UK to the North Pole aboard the Unsinkable where they find their quest for polar bears has only just begun. Told completely through short letters written by Grandfather to his unnamed grandchild, this chapter book is a practical introduction to independent reading. The theme of global warming is subtle but clear and could inspire rich classroom conversations or lessons. The late cartoonist's silly annotated black-and-white illustrations are sprinkled throughout, each letter adding additional humor to the zany fantastical adventure, which includes a pack of singing drunken wolves, a snow poet and frozen seagulls. Quirky with a message. Horse will be missed. (Fiction. 6-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140363821
  • Publisher: Penguin UK
  • Publication date: 1/7/1997
  • Pages: 80
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.08 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Harry Horse was born in Coventry. He wrote and illustrated several children's books - including THE OGOPOGO, which won the Scottish Arts Council Writers' Award. He was well-known as a political cartoonist and produced cartoons for the New Yorker, The Guardian, Scotland on Sunday and The Scotsman. Harry died in 2007.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2011

    Very entertaining, easy read

    My 7 year old grandson and I read this together at bedtime over the course of a week. It took him on a fun adventure. Very easy for him to read. He loved Roo and had fun following the excursion on the map included at the front of the book. I enjoyed the fun details in the story. I would highly recommend this to any child who loves nature. I am ordering the rest of "The Last.." books.

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  • Posted November 6, 2010


    I have not read the book, but if it is anything like the movie, then it is GREAT. I <3 Roo!!!

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