cover image Nothing Ever Happens at the South Pole

Nothing Ever Happens at the South Pole

Stan and Jan Berenstain. Harper, $10.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-207532-1

Originally intended as the Berenstains' second book%E2%80%94following The Big Honey Hunt (1962), which marked the first appearance of the Berenstain Bears%E2%80%94this story was set aside as the husband-and-wife team focused on their popular Bear family. After the death of Stan Berenstain in 2005, Jan finished the book with their son, Mike. The story features an oblivious main character for readers to feel smarter than and a humorous disconnect between text and art%E2%80%94now-common contrivances that are used more successfully elsewhere. After the penguin receives a blank book ("Something happens every day./ Write it down right away" reads the cover), he leaves his igloo looking for a story. In clunky, singsong rhymes, the penguin %E2%80%A8recounts his futile search for adventure ("No! That is no good%E2%80%94/ I made a snowball. Look./ That is not good/ for my new book"), but the illustrations tell another story. The penguin's snowball wipes out three ferocious wolves, lumps of snow are really polar bears, and a "stepping stone" in the water is actually a submerged (and angry) walrus. With awkward, repetitive verse and a thin plot, this story has little to offer. Ages 4%E2%80%938. (Sept.)