Arctic Lights, Arctic Nights, written by Debbie S. Miller and illustrated by Jon Van Zyle - The city of Fairbanks, Alaska lies one hundred and fifteen miles south of the Arctic Circle. This book provides seasonal descriptions of the changing hours of light and temperatures in Fairbanks from one summer solstice to the next. Across the top of each page readers will find the date, total number of hours and minutes of daylight, times for sunrise and sunset, and average high and low temperatures. The text examines everything from the migration of birds and caribou to the hibernation of bears, all placed within the context of the lengthening and shortening of days. Animals referenced in the text include the moose, snowshoe hare, grizzly bear, ground squirrel, sandhill crane, caribou, wolf, raven, and trumpeter swan. The text ends with a glossary that explains phenomena like "blinks," "diamond dust," and "sun dogs."
Ice Bears, written by Brenda Guiberson and illustrated by Ilya Spirin - Beautifully written and illustrated, this story begins in December with the birth of two polar bear cubs and follows them through the year. Readers learn how they grow, develop, and learn to survive in a complex ecosystem. The ice is a central focus here, and readers will come to see the threat to the bears as the climate warms and the ice melts. The back matter explains a bit more about threats to the Arctic and includes a list of websites for environmental organizations. (You can learn more about this book by reading my review.)
Being Caribou: Five Months on Foot with a Caribou Herd, written by Karsten Heuer - Read that title again and let two words sink in--ON FOOT. This is an adaptation of Heuer’s adult title that describes the five months he and his wife spent following the migration of more than 100,000 Grant’s caribou to their breeding ground in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). In describing the difficulties they (humans) faced, Heuer also provides readers with an intimate view of this seasonal trek from the perspective of the caribou. While journeying thousands of kilometers, the caribou must cross mountain slopes and thawing rivers while surviving blizzards and the constant threat of predators. Accompanied by photographs of the migration, this is an amazing story that helps readers to understand the delicate Arctic ecosystem.
If you are interested in learning more about the Arctic and Arctic wildlife, check out these resources.
- Defenders of Wildlife has a series of wildlife and habitat fact sheets.
- Polar Bears International has an extensive page of polar bear facts.
- The National Geographic Society has information on polar bears at creature feature.
- Canadian Geographic has some information on caribou.
- The Arctic Studies Center answers some frequently asked questions about the arctic.
- The Arctic Wildlife Portfolio at the Arctic Studies Center has a wealth of information on birds, as well as land and sea mammals.
- Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears is an online magazine for K-5 teachers integrating science, literacy and the polar regions.
- NOAA has an Arctic theme page with a gallery of Arctic images.