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Children's LiteratureSweeping watercolor panoramas reflect the author/illustrator's longtime interest in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the largest of more than 500 wildlife refuges in the United States, and one about the size of Maine. Using the narrative form of a year in the life of a caribou herd (and overusing the word "critical," a word some young readers may not have much context for), he introduces the biodiversity and interdependence of the life forms in this corner of Alaska. Some fourteen animals are profiled in an endnote, and the author also adds a note about his concern about possible drilling for oil in this preserve. Caribou information is embedded in the text so that a report writer might have to seek out facts, such as the fact that females in the immense caribou herd all give birth within the same few days, or that this is the only deer species in which both male and female have antlers. Hiscock's watercolor and pencil depictions of the landscape are dramatic and open, and his animals rely both on his sketched observations and on the work of photographers, whom he credits. A helpful map and the reserve's Web site are included. 2003, Boyds Mills Press, Ages 7 to 11.
— Susan Hepler, Ph.D.