Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Blog Tour: The Very, Very Far North by Dan Bar-el, illustrated by Kelly Pousette

One summer day, a polar bear named Duane wanders along the shoreline of the Cold, Cold ocean looking for a good place to nap until he reaches the Very, Very Far North. There he discovers a shipwreck, and living on it is C.C., a very smart snowy white owl, who is at the moment studying Latin verbs. After chatting a bit with her, Duane finds a suitable cave, so suitable, he decides to stay, furnishing his new home with items found on board the shipwreck.

Duane loves a good nap, but being a curious polar bear, he begins to explore his new home and soon enough meets a musk ox who is always and only deeply involved in admiring his reflection. He quickly becomes Duane's second friend, especially after he names the musk ox Handsome (Duane is very good at finding just the right name for everyone). Over time, Duane makes more friends. There's Magic, a very, very energetic, impulsive Arctic fox; Major Puff, a puffin who practises military marching for when the day comes and he has to retreat; and an Arctic hare Duane names Twitch, who keeps an immaculate home but is a worrywart, always on the lookout for danger. Into this mix of animals comes Sun Girl and her pack of dogs known collectively as The Pack, and a summertime painter Duane names Squint because of the way he studies the object he is painting.

The Very, Very Far North, which is just mesmerizing, is a series of character driven vignettes involving Duane and his new friends. Their adventures are affectionately relayed by a gentle-voiced narrator using direct address, creating what feels like a very intimate story time. Added to that are Kelly Pousette's simple black and white illustrations scattered throughout and complimenting the text. And it's easy to understand why Duane has been compared to Winnie-the-Pooh. Duane is a really good natured bear with a certain cluelessness that leads to some very funny situations.

But for all Duane's cluelessness, he is a empathic bear who recognizes the differences in his friends and just accepts and respects them for who they are. For example, Duane likes a good hug, but he knows knows that C.C. does not really like being touched, preferring to share her wealth of knowledge about nature and science instead; Magic's energy can overwhelm, but Duane manages to find constructive outlets for the hare. 

The Very, Very Far North is a calming, cozy kind of book that would make an excellent read-aloud whether in school, or curled up under a blanket on a cool afternoon, or as a bedtime story, since each chapter can be read on its own. Personally, I love a good bear story and this one is just top-notch as far as I'm concerned.

This book is recommended for readers age 8+ (but works as a read-aloud for younger kids).
This book was provided to me by the publisher, Simon & Schuster

Meet the Author
Dan Bar-el is an award-winning children’s author, educator, and storyteller whose books include Audrey (cow), Not Your Typical Dragon, and The Very, Very Far North. Dan has worked with children ages three to thirteen as a school-age childcare provider, a preschool teacher, a creative drama teacher, and a creative writing teacher. He also teaches with the Creative Writing for Children Society. Dan lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, with artist and goldsmith Dominique Bréchault, and Sasha, the most adorable cat in the known universe. Visit him at

Meet the Illustrator
Kelly Pousette is an illustrator and storyteller, originally from the west coast of British Columbia. She loves to create things, especially pictures. Her work has been featured in The Huffington Post Paris, The Brown Paper Bag  blog, and Brightness Magazine. She currently resides in northern British Columbia with her husband and very large dog Clovis. The Very, Very Far North is her first book. 

Be sure to visit these other stops on The Very, Very Far North Blog Tour:

September 2 – The Story Sanctuary
September 3 – Kirsti Call
September 4 – Randomly Reading
September 5 – Alexa Loves Books
September 6 – Jean Little Library
September 7 – Tale Out Loud
September 9 – Insane About Books

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