cover image Cold Paws, Warm Heart

Cold Paws, Warm Heart

Madeleine Floyd, . . Candlewick, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-2761-4

Cold Paws is a warmhearted polar bear so huge he scares away all potential animal friends. Just when it seems that he's doomed to always feel "cold inside," with only his silver flute for company ("he played [it] each day to forget his troubles"), a girl named Hannah appears, lured by the bear's music. After several visits, Hannah warms to the fellow and his hulking vulnerability; she pledges "to play with [him] every day." The story's wrap-up proclaims, "Now that he had a friend, Cold Paws didn't feel cold anymore." While the narrative retains a rather wooden literalness, the watercolor, ink and pastel pictures are quite another matter. With subtle striations of grays, blues and whites, British author/artist Floyd immerses readers in the daunting chill of the polar landscape; in one remarkable scene, Cold Paws, while playing his flute, seems enveloped by the night sky, a canopy of billowing, foreboding slate blue shot through with the shimmering green of an aurora borealis. Floyd's characterization of her gigantic ursine hero is every bit as striking as her depiction of his environment: Cold Paws is sweetly sad but never pitiful, and endearing from the first page. Children will immediately sense that while Cold Paws is very much at home in his enormous body, Hannah's chipper, stylishly Nordic presence is the very connection he seeks. Ages 4-8. (Jan.)