Polar Bear Island (Lindsay Bonilla)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Polar Bear Island, written by Lindsay Bonilla and illustrated by Cinta Villalobos, a wonderful story about the importance of community diversity.

Polar Bear Island, overseen by stodgy mayor Parker, is quiet and peaceful – and Parker intends to keep it that way, chiefly by not allowing anyone other then polar bears to inhabit it. Until a traveling penguin named Kirby floats up on her ice floe boat, much to Parker’s dismay. After a long journey, she asks for one night to rest, and Parker reluctantly obliges. However, Kirby quickly earns friends and fans among the polar bears for her clever inventions and friendly demeanor. They beg Parker to let her stay longer, and he gruffly complies. In the meantime, Kirby writes her family to tell them of her adventures… prompting a visit from more clever and personable penguins, which drives Parker to frustration. But when the mayor suffers a tumble and the penguins rush to his rescue, he may begin to reconsider his “Polar Bears Only” policies…

Absolutely fantastic. I love when books are able to take important issues and make them accessible to young readers, and this one does so perfectly. Through a kid-friendly plot full of warmth and humor, the story also manages to impart the importance of diverse communities – how welcoming those who are different from ourselves benefits us all. Details like Kirby – an adventurous and intelligent young penguin – being female are also welcome and appreciated. The illustrations are adorable and endearing, and fit the tone of the story perfectly. The length is great, and JJ and I both loved it. A fantastic story to teach a simple yet vital lesson: what makes us different is often what makes us special, and can bring communities together if we are patient, open, and kind. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)