IBBY UK REVIEW: This charming tale neatly tackles a number of situations that young readers will recognise and relate to; it also provides a very practical and satisfactory conclusion that shows how friends do not need to be the same to be valued and inclusive. Neville and Wilfred are encouraged to make the most of themselves, but Betty by maintaining her independence also provides the opportunity for a friendship that embraces the three very different characters. Bunell’s illustrations with their attractive retro look achieved through a simple palette limited to soft blues, yellows and madder combined with strong black outlines provide just the right amount of humour. Without mirroring the narrative, they capture the details not in the text and bring the characters to life, expanding and enriching the directness of the narrative. A thoroughly enjoyable picture book with a distinctive visual language that is very welcome.
FOREWORD REVIEW: Warm colors brighten frigid waters in this humorous tale about standing out, fitting in, and staying cool.
SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL: This is an appealing read-aloud that can be used to generate discussion about classroom and playground dynamics.
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY REVIEW: The characters’ arc toward friendship and self-acceptance is refreshing, and the watercolor pictures by Bunnell (Disappearing Acts), which combine a sketchbook intimacy with the textural warmth and color pop of old school lithography, pair well with the low-key narration.
YS BOOK REVIEW: With its limited color palette (two blues, salmon and ochre), simple shapes and lithographic feel, this retro-looking entry reminded me of a book from the 1960s. The illustrations are adorable, with a little bit of attitude to keep them edgy. The text appears in a clear serif typeface, with dialogue rendered in a bold, all-caps print, hovering right over the speaker. This is a really playful look at how outsiders can succeed on their own terms. The overall book design is terrific, with cool, multicolored underwater blobs on the endpapers and thick creamy paper.
There are many books about twosomes becoming threesomes along with some observation about resulting tensions and eventual resolutions (Horace and Morris but Mostly Dolores by James Howe and Chester’s Way by Kevin Henkes), but this is an interesting and novel twist on the trope. A good choice for a classroom read aloud on the theme of friendship.
CELEBRATE PICTURE BOOKS REVIEW: CK Smouha’s story about a narwhal and a walrus who are ostracized by their classmates but find friendship with a new student is a complex tale that touches on group dynamics, self-esteem, independence, jealousy, finding your niche, and other topics that children deal with every day. There is a difference between totally fitting in and being accepted that frames the story and gives it its emotional punch. The pages in which Wilfred cowers under his covers, not wanting to go to school and Neville spends Sundays replaying the bullying he’s endured are heart-wrenching and important in that they reveal to readers that what happens in school colors life out of school. These pages also give children for whom these feelings are a reality a opening for discussing them. When Betty Beluga joins the class, she becomes a role model for Neville and Wilfred as well as for readers. While she has all the prerequisites to fit in with the seals, she charts her own course, maintaining her individuality.
Isabella Bunnell’s matte illustrations, rendered in hues of blue, gold, red and black give a distinctive look to this multilayered story. Bunnell uses subtle shifts in the characters’ faces and body positions to portray their full range of emotions, giving readers much to think and talk about. With the exception of the hide-and-seek scenes, Bunnell chooses to depict the setting without an ocean background. Her pages thus orient readers in school, home, and sports-field environments that are familiar to them, reinforcing the universal theme of the story. A unique and thoughtful look at the dynamics of groups, defining oneself, and friendship, Iced Out would be a discussion-starting addition to home, classroom, and public library collections for all children.
BOOKTRUST REVIEW: This empowering, super-cute read is a must for all children, whether they feel like the odd-one-out or not.
NET GALLEY REVIEW: A trio to warm your heart. The illustrations were brightly colored and adorable renditions of arctic mammals were joyous to look at.
LINDA'S BOOK BAG REVIEW: Iced Out is a heartwarming tale that illustrates perfectly that a child does not have to be like everyone else, especially through Betty Beluga who is a feisty independent female equally happy in her own company as well as with others. Iced Out would be an excellent book to share with children who are not fitting in at school, or to use with classes of younger children to explore how attitudes towards others might affect them. It was so rewarding to have unusual creatures featured through the beluga whale, walrus and narwhal as a change from the domestic animals that so often feature in children’s books. This could be a fantastic opportunity to research then environment and more unusual animals. I’d have liked entirely lower case letters for speech and the title if Iced Out were to be used with emergent writers to model conventions, but there is a clear distinction between narrative and speech so that the grammatical aspects could be investigated too, making Iced Out educationally useful, especially when looking at the alliterative names too.
The pictures are simply drawn in a style that appeals to younger children and they illustrate the narrative perfectly. I thought it was inspired to keep to a reduced palette so that there is unity throughout.
I definitely recommend taking a trip to Miss Blubber’s School for Arctic Mammals!
MY SHELVES ARE FULL REVIEW: Not fitting in is a popular theme across picture books and middle grade novels. Why fit in when you were born to stand out. This old adage couldn’t be truer than in Iced out. I love that this book used the Arctic animals, in place of tigers, elephants, giraffes who we might normally find in a children’s picture book.
There is so much diversity in the Arctic world, from the weird and wonderful narwhal to the pristinely white beluga. Diversity and being who you are is such a powerful message for children to hear and I will champion this book in my schools, especially in the Autumn term when this message needs to be reiterated.
A perfect amount of text make this book easy to read and enjoy and the bold use of colours make it lovely to look through. A brilliant book!
READ IT DADDY: If you're going to write a children's picture book about friendship, or about how being different can be cool, you'd better bring your A-Game because - to be quite honest - we see so many books with those core themes that they all begin to blur into one.
Thankfully in the case of "Iced Out" by CK Smouha and Isabella Bunnell, both author and artist have indeed brought their A-Game, delivering a nifty ocean-based tale of three distinctly different animals who soon realise that despite their appearance, they all have something in common.
Kids will wholly identify what it feels like to be a bit of a fish out of water, and sometimes it feels like everyone else in school has something in common - and if you don't 'fit in' it can be a tough time, but this book rather stylishly shows that sometimes it takes others to recognise the awesomeness we secretly carry around with us all the time.
A brilliantly written and gorgeously illustrated life lesson that will help kids realise that 'different can be cool'.
READING ZONE REVIEW: This story is simple and the pictures are engaging. With themes about being yourself, being different and being independent, it is a nice book to share at story time.
THE BOOK ACTIVIST REVIEW: This is a lively picture book featuring the antics of Wilfred the Walrus and Neville the Narwhal as they try and fit in amongst a class of not very friendly seals. Bright and expressive illustrations capture the narrative in this engaging tale about friendship and being happy with who you are. Great fun!
A GREAT READ REVIEW: A warm, funny tale about friendship and fitting in that school-aged children are sure to identify with. Isabella Bunnell's joyous watercolour illustrations are complimented by luxuriant packaging.
PARENTS IN TOUCH REVIEW: Three lovely marine characters are at the heart of this charming story about friendship, being adaptable and fitting in. With a little help from a beluga, the walrus and the narwhal learn that it's good to be different. A lovely way to convey an important message, with traditionally-styled illustrations by Isabella Bunnell.
SUNNY BUZZY BOOKS REVIEW: Ultimately, it's a book that makes it clear it's okay not to fit in with the masses and that once you find your tribe, you'll be ok for things are better when you are not alone. The pictures were fun, the language was simple for early readers and all in all it was an enjoyable little book that made us smile.
PreS-Gr 2—Wilfred, a walrus, and Neville, a narwhal, simply do not fit in with the rest of the class at Miss Blubber's School for Arctic Mammals. (The other students appear to be arctic seals.) Not being invited to parties or to play on sports teams is bad enough, but Wilfred and Neville don't even like each other. Neville spears the soccer ball with his tusk; Wilfred always has a peculiar smell about him. When Betty Beluga, a confident, independent whale, joins the class, Neville, Wilfred, and the rest of the class are smitten by her and vie for her attention. Neville, Wilfred, and Betty begin to play together and finally find acceptance with their classmates, but on their own terms, of course. Line drawings with splashes of limited bold color add a touch of humor to the straightforward, easy-to-read text. VERDICT While not an essential purchase, this is an appealing read-aloud that can be used to generate discussion about classroom and playground dynamics.—Maria B. Salvadore, formerly at District of Columbia Public Library
Outsiders bond at Miss Blubber's School for Arctic Mammals.
Not being seals like their teacher and the rest of their classmates, and bad at sports to boot, Neville the narwhal and Wilfred the walrus lead socially isolated lives (they don't even like each other much)—until the arrival of new student Betty Beluga…who excels at everything but keeps to herself. Being, as Smouha puts it, "smitten," Neville tries to impress Betty with a soccer-ball trick, but Wilfred torpedoes the effort. All three proceed to play hide-and-seek, and then, after Betty rejects a demand to pick one over the other ("I don't need any rescuing and I don't want a boyfriend thank you very much"), become "firm" friends who never again fret about fitting in. Ta-da! Bunnell illustrates this sketchy tale with chalky views of rotund sea creatures in chairs, on a soccer field, and like minimally detailed settings. The seals are all a uniform gray; Neville and Wilfred are, respectively, mustard and blue; Betty is a dazzling white…which gives the closing observation that "Wilfred and Neville and Betty were not like the other kids in Miss Blubber's class" potentially uncomfortable overtones. Considering that the seals all look pretty much alike aside from the odd hat or scarf, it's also more exclusionary than otherwise, which begs the final "And that was just fine."
Simplistic wish fulfillment unlikely to move or comfort similarly marginalized kids. (Picture book. 6-8)