Sunday, February 28, 2016

Debbie--have you seen.... Danna Smith's ARCTIC WHITE

In January, a major publisher (Holt, an imprint of Macmillan), released Arctic White, a picture book by Danna Smith. Here's the synopsis:

When you live in the Arctic in winter, everything is a shade of white. 
A young girl looks around her home in the Arctic and sees only white, white, white...but one day her grandfather takes her on a journey through the tundra.  And at the end of their cold walk across the ice, they find something special that brings color into their world.

The reviewer at Kirkus writes that the setting and culture aren't clear. Here's part of that review:
A modern paint box, a bound book, and a flashlight, together with the second-person, present-tense address (placing readers inside the story), imply a contemporary setting, but this girl lives a nonindustrialized life in an iglu, even though most contemporary indigenous Arctic people live in houses. The lack of any specific indigenous nation and some faux Native philosophy—“Grandfather says hope is golden. You can only see it when you look into a snowy owl’s eyes”—add to the romanticized Native image. Jan Bourdeau Waboose’s SkySisters (2000), an Ojibwe story about walking across tundra to see the northern lights, is a better choice.

I absolutely love SkySisters and am thrilled to see Kirkus sending readers to it instead! If I get a copy of Arctic White and read it, I'll be back with a review. For now, I think I'd agree with the Kirkus review.

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