The two poles are clearly described as the geographic locations within the Arctic and in Antarctica. The Arctic is defined to include Greenland and the tundra in Canada, Russia, Scandinavia, and Alaska. A map clearly defines the Arctic Circle and helps students understand that land circles the Arctic Ocean and forms the Arctic. This discussion sets the stage for describing the different life-forms that exist in each area. The tundra supports a much broader range of plant and animal life than is possible in Antarctica. The book clearly dispels the myth held by many young children that the poles are nothing but ice and barren wastelands.
Ten chapters are devoted to descriptions of the plant and animal life in the polar regions. Most of the animals are referenced in the introductory chapters, to clearly identify their habitat. When new animals are introduced later in the book, the author clearly identifies them; for example, the narwhal is identified as a type of Arctic whale. This helps the reader place the animal in its appropriate environment and gain a greaterunderstanding of the rich wildlife in the Arctic region. The author also provides a clear explanation of the adaptation of plants and animals to their environment. For example, plants that grow in the Arctic have a low profile that helps them trap moisture and avoid being crushed by the ice. Also, the low profile minimizes the effects of the strong Arctic winds. Animals, such as baby seals, have thick layers of blubber to protect them from the cold.
This book is factual and easy to read. It provides clear explanations and is organized in a manner that allows the reader to understand the similarities and differences between the poles. The book is a valuable resource for teachers and students. (from The Natural World Series.) Recommended, Grades 3-8. REVIEWER: Dr. Linda Hummel Fitzharris (College of Charleston)