At the Poles

Candlewick. Oct. 2023. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781536205992.
Gr 1-3–Polar bears and penguins are superstars of the poles, but what about their less prominent polar pals? In this clever and informative poetry picture book, Elliott spotlights a cast of unheralded creatures who also call the Arctic and Antarctic home. Enter narwhal, or the sage Greenland shark wandering the icy waters for centuries. The poems—some playful, most rhyming, all brief—are grouped into three sections: the animals that live in the Antarctic, Arctic, and those who are found at both poles (only the migrating orca whale and ubiquitous tardigrade). Similar in style to In the Woods, and Elliott’s other collections of nonfiction poetry for young readers, each spread is devoted to one animal and its respective poem is formatted to flow in unison with the illustration. Rooney’s stunning mixed-media illustrations blend ink, gouache, crayon, and collage, infusing vibrancy and warmth into an otherwise frigid landscape. Depictions of animals are intimate and elegant, as if the creatures crept closer to readers to pose for a moment of recognition. Back matter provides brief facts about each animal featured and serves as a launching point for curious early elementary readers to expand their knowledge of polar animals.
VERDICT A graceful picture book of polar poetry to incite curiosity in young armchair explorers.

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