cover image Adrift: An Odd Couple of Polar Bears

Adrift: An Odd Couple of Polar Bears

Jessica Olien. Balzer & Bray, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-245177-4

“Karl and Hazel are not friends,” writes Olien (The Blobfish Book) of her polar-opposite polar bear protagonists: Karl is gregarious (and maybe smells “a little” like old fish), while Hazel’s bookish shyness comes off as aloof and judgmental. When part of the ice cap that they occupy breaks off, floats away, and begins to shrink (an afterword explains the effect of global warming on polar habitats), Karl and Hazel realize that they are stuck together in an “endless sea.” Overcoming their initial mutual chilliness, they become best buddies by the time they find land. Olien’s cartooning is boldly graphic and deceptively simple: she works in crisp black outlines, clean shapes, and mostly flat shades of white, blue, and purple, with bright orange for punctuation. Yet the visual earnestness of her cartooning lends real emotional depth to her straightforward storytelling. Karl and Hazel don’t do anything dramatic on the ice floe—they make a snowman, sing songs, play “I spy”—but readers will understand that the friendship they build is one that can weather anything. Ages 4–8. [em]Agent: Brianne Johnson, Writers House. (Jan.) [/em]