Brett's penchant for retelling and illustrating old tales shines through in this enjoyable visit to the far North. Using watercolor and gouache, she adds personality to the animal faces in her stories. Her bears show happiness, disapproval and concern while maintaining the look of polar bears and not becoming cartoon caricatures.
With Brett's retelling of Goldilocks and the Three Bears in an Arctic setting, readers will enter into the everyday life of an Inuit Eskimo child named Aloo-ki and learn about her culture.
As the story begins, Aloo-ki looks up from her fishing to see her huskies being carried off on an ice floe and tries to follow them. Weary after a frantic chase, she is drawn to an empty igloo, where she finds sustenance and rest. Turns out the igloo is home to three polar bears -- yes, Mama, Papa and Baby Bear, who have gone out for a walk. Meanwhile, the bears have discontinued their outing to rescue Aloo-ki's dogs. They return home pushing the dog sled and comforting the huskies. The reunion? Eskimo style ... lots of nose rubbing.
Brett's "story in the margin" technique shares much of the Inuit culture from lodgings to clothing. Her detailed artwork will capture the non-reader's interest, which may slow the pace for Mom, Dad, sibling or sitter as the simultaneous pictorial story unfolds. But it's great for spending quality time with a child, so you might want to share it on the weekends.
An educator by profession, Jan Brett has created a dynamite Website for parents and teachers. For a closer look at her world, visit www.janbrett.com for activities, coloring pages and projects. And I'll bet that if someone asked her, she'd even come to a school near you.