“The ancient ones whisper to me, Iluak,” Nana says. “They talk about you. They say a bear is waiting.”
Life isn’t easy in the land of snow and ice and for Iluak, a Too-lee boy travelling with his tribe, there are daily challenges. Now, though, a new challenge is coming. His grandmother, the Shaman, tells him a bear is coming – and it will be Iluak who will save his people from the bear. But Iluak is afraid of bears, and doesn’t want to face one.
Polar Boy is an absorbing historical adventure, set in a 13th century polar community and offering an intriguing insight into the daily life of Iluak’s people. When Iluak rescues a Viking girl from a polar bear there is also a meeting of cultures and Iluak comes to realise that strength comes in different forms – as do bears.
The time and setting of this wonderful tale offer young readers a glimpse at something far removed from both their own life experience and from other books. Fussell manages to create a believable world, with readers being invited to feel the cold and the fear which are at the core of Iluak’s daily life. At the same time, readers will be able to relate to Iluak’s self doubt, his search to find a place in his family, and his rivalry with Tuaq, another boy from his tribe.
Polar Boy is wonderfully written and well deserving of its inclusion in this year’s shortlist for the Children’s Book of the year Awards.
Polar Boy, by Sandy Fussell
Walker Books, 2008
This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.
Also by Sandy Fussell
White Crane (2008)
Owl Ninja (2008)
Shaolin Tiger (2009)