A penguin and a polar bear are polar opposites and best friends.
Children's Literature - Vicki FooteAlex is a big polar bear who lives in the Arctic, and Zina is a tiny penguin who lives in the Antarctic in this fun fiction story. Large illustrations of the globe with the animals on opposite ends of the earth should help children understand the concept. Alex and Zina are also opposite in many other things, such as the fact that Alex is white and shaggy, while Zina is black and smooth. The animals are given human characteristics, so amusing illustrations show Alex and Zina eating and sleeping (in opposite ways) like humans. Alex and Zina prepare to leave on a trip to meet in the middle of the earth at Galapagos Islands, the "Paradise at the Heart of the World." Postcard illustrations show Alex and Zina having fun together and hugging farewell until next year. This entertaining book with wonderful illustrations makes good use of helping children understand the meaning of opposites while also learning a bit about geography and friendship. Reviewer: Vicki Foote
School Library JournalK-Gr 1—Alex the polar bear and Zina the penguin live at opposite ends of the world but are best friends. In a succession of cartoon images, young readers can easily see the numerous ways the two are opposite: e.g., "Alex is BIG and Zina is small. Alex gets up late. Zina rises early. Alex is loud. Zina is quiet. Shhh...." Liking sour or sweet, messy or neat, their preferences may be dramatically different, but the two find ways to come together-by phone, mail, or a visit in the middle of the globe. There's no lack of motion and detail in full-page and (spilled-over) framed pencil, charcoal, and watercolor cartoon illustrations. Predictable, but a child-friendly way to explore friendships and differences in individuals, this book might provide an opportunity to introduce youngsters to geography or the actual habitats and activities of animals found at the poles.—Mary Elam, Learning Media Services Plano ISD, TX
Kirkus ReviewsPenpals Alex Polar Bear and Zina Penguin are polar opposites, living on opposite sides of the world. And while they enjoy writing each other letters, they are unalike in every other way. Shaggy Alex lives in the Arctic, sleeps in, is loud and messy and favors bright clothes. The Antarctic-dwelling Zina likes sweet foods, subdued clothing and slow travel. While Brooks lists their opposites, he also moves readers forward toward an annual meeting of the penpals in the Galápagos Islands. Alex packs his Hawaiian shirts and pushes his suitcase toward the plane. Zina packs her fancy hat and pulls her luggage toward a cruise ship. The pencil, charcoal and watercolor illustrations give observant readers further clues about each friends' preferences. The two are endearing, individual characters, their personalities indicated clearly and agreeably. The inclusion of several views of the world (planet, globe, map) gives readers a strong foundation in polar geography. While the anthropomorphized pair has nothing in common with their real counterparts apart from location, the light story makes this a refreshing change from traditional opposite books. (Picture book. 3-7)
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