LITTLE POLAR BEAR AND THE BRAVE LITTLE HARE, by Hans de Beer. (North-South, $15.95; grades K-2.) The story here is winning but hardly remarkable; the title characters meet and help each other out of tight spots up around the North Pole. What's special about this book and the others in the popular Little Polar Bear series are the warmth and detail of de Beer's illustrations.
INTO THE ICE: The Story of Arctic Exploration, by Lynn Curlee. (Houghton Mifflin, $16; grades 3-5.) This brief but fascinating look at the history of polar exploration covers both the heroes and many eccentric characters who risked their lives searching for the North Pole and an Arctic passage to Asia. The stark and dramatic oil paintings, in vivid whites and blues, capture this most inhospitable of landscapes.
COME ON RAIN, by Karen Hesse, with pictures by Jon Muth. (Scholastic Press, $15.95; grades K-3.) Newbery award-winner Hesse and comic book artist extraordinaire Muth pool their talents for this exquisite picture book about a young girl impatiently waiting for an approaching thunderstorm to bring relief to a sweltering city. When the storm finally breaks, the girl and her friends throw on swimming suits and dance in the streets. The animated watercolors and vibrant narrative make this the perfect read-aloud.
OUTSIDE AND INSIDE BATS, by Sandra Markle. (Atheneum, $16; grades 4-6.) Long-nosed bats, tiny bumblebee bats, ferocious-looking vampire bats, and nectar-drinking bats with superlong tongues are just a few of the species featured in this book, which brims with information and photographs of these fascinating, misunderstood creatures.
HOLES, by Louis Sachar. (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux; $16; young adult.) Wrongly accused of theft, Stanley is sent to a boys' correctional camp in the Texas desert run by a psychopathic warden. As part of their punishment, the boys dig holes each day in the dry ground. Stanley, however, realizes that the holes are part of a scheme by the warden, and he sets out to uncover the mystery--at his peril. Holes won the National Book Award for young people's literature.
EACH ONE SPECIAL, by Frieda Wishinsky, with illustrations by H. Werner Zimmermann. (Orca, $14.95; grades K-2.) Every day after school, Ben stops at the local bakery to watch Harry, a master cake decorator, work wonders with buttercream icing and marzipan, caramel and coconut. But when the bakery is sold, the new owners let Harry go, telling him they want "fast, not different." In his forced retirement, Harry becomes a couch potato--until the day Ben shows up for help on a tricky art project. Wishinsky's punchy wordplay and Zimmermann's lively watercolors touch gently on the subject of rejection, but the overarching message is one of resilience and the good things that can happen when someone believes in you.
--Barbara Hiron and Blake Rodman
Vol. 10, Issue 5, Page 51