cover image Polar Bear Postman

Polar Bear Postman

Seigo Kijima, trans. from the Japanese by Mariko Shii Gharbi. Museyon (IPG, dist.), $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-940842-21-9

Japanese artist Kijima sends a polar bear postmaster across rural Japan in search of a red-crowned crane chick who has been separated from his parents. “We searched as soon as we realized he was missing, but we couldn’t find him,” they explain in a postcard. “Please help us, Mr. Milk.” The first animals Milk visits are scary predators, a red fox and a white-tailed eagle who attest to not having eaten the chick (much as they might have liked to). But the sequence softens as Milk canvasses other creatures native to northern Japan: a Siberian chipmunk, some sika deer, and a Blakiston’s fish owl. Kijima outlines his figures with rough and bold black lines, and uses soft strokes of color to fill them in, giving the spreads a childlike feel. It’s lots of fun watching the postal bear stamp pieces of mail at his desk and pedal his delivery bike through small villages; delicate silhouettes of plants and flowers offer contrast. Spring turns into summer, and Milk receives another postcard that solves the mystery—a satisfying conclusion to this exploration of nature. Ages 5–7. (Nov.)