The Very, Very Far North

S. & S./Atheneum. Sept. 2019. 272p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781534433410.
Gr 1-4–A sort of arctic Winnie the Pooh, Duane the Polar Bear meets a wide variety of friends and has many adventures in this gentle novel. At times, the narration can feel too knowing and the whimsy a bit forced. Nonetheless, as the episodic chapters progress, each character is well developed and the kindness with which these friends treat each other is instructive without being didactic. CC the Owl doesn’t like being touched, Boo the Caribou is quite shy, and Magic the Fox is very impulsive—but Duane thoughtfully learns to understand their different points of view and include them in his escapades. The rich language and wordplay make for an excellent read-aloud.
VERDICT Recommended, especially as a read-aloud, for fans of classics like A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh and Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows, or for those seeking a solid demonstration of positive social interaction.

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