Iceberg: A Life in Seasons – Perfect Picture Book Friday

I’m sorry to do this to you all, but I just have to share a preview of this book, even though it’s not due out until September! It’s gorgeous! It’s glorious! It’s lyrical and inviting and informative and deep. Literally.

Gorgeous, translucent illustrations accompany this lyrical exploration of the seasons and wildlife in the Antarctic. The narrative opens in the dark of winter.

In the final freeze of an Antarctic winter,

green tails wave across a star-full sky

If this world looks empty,

look closer.

When we turn the page, the sky has lightened, and an iceberg calves and floats away from the mainland, heralding the start of Spring.

As the berg floats through the seasons, krill emerge and the predators that eat them feast. Penguins, leopard seals, orcas, terns, cormorants, humpback whales, etc. make their appearances, along with animals the reader is not as likely to be familiar with, like shearwaters and salps.

A glorious, drool-worthy gatefold spread shows all of the activity that’s happening below the surface of the sea.

Illustration ©Jess Racklyeft

Over the span of a year, the berg grows smaller. It lists and then tips. Nothing in this environment remains the same. And even though the Antarctic may sometimes look lifeless, there is always life in the water, under the ice, or in the skies.

The author provides a glossary explaining terms that may be unfamiliar to the young reader and a brief note describing the effects of climate change on both poles.

The illustrations are so beautiful, I find myself going back to marvel at how the illustrator created such a sense of depth to the water. It’s magical. And I also enjoyed revisiting descriptions in the text, particularly unusual use of language like “flip-edged pancakes,” “terns wheel overhead,” “Fish-fat and sleek, the emperors belly slap,” and “green tails wave across a star-full sky.”

This is a gorgeous nonfiction book that should ignite children’s interest as they learn about the seasons and the cycles of life in the polar regions. I’m just sorry you’ll have to wait until September to enjoy it. But you can pre-order it now so you’ll have it in your library for the Fall.

Activities:

Pair this book with Good Eating: The Short Life of Krill by Matt Lilley, illustrated by Dan Tavis.

Watch this YouTube video about the difference between the Arctic and Antarctic.

Watch this brief Blue Planet/BBC Earth YouTube clip of whales and fur seals feasting on krill near Antarctica.

Make an origami whale or origami krill.

Title: Iceberg: A Life in Seasons

Author: Claire Saxby

Illustrator: Jess Racklyeft

Publisher: Groundwood Books, 2022 (September)

Ages: Elementary school

Themes: Antarctica, polar wildlife, seasons

For more perfect picture book recommendations, please visit Susanna Hill’s website.

8 thoughts on “Iceberg: A Life in Seasons – Perfect Picture Book Friday

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      We just spent the past few days at Cal Poly Pomona with our son. It was in the 90s there, and our Bay Area selves felt like we were on a spit. Our dog panted constantly. I hope the weather cools down for you soon. In the meantime, yes, travel to the Antarctic!

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