Fascinated by the Arctic and the polar bears who live there? Then perhaps Polar Bears: Survival on the Ice, a new entry in the Science Comics series, will enlighten you about these mammals. The story is told from the perspective of a mother polar bear trying to teach her cubs how to survive. The first chapter details how the polar bear fits into the bear family. We learn that the first bear was the dawn bear. The dawn bear started small and evolved into something bigger. A fact that I found quite amazing was that a polar bear’s fur is not white it is transparent. It is clear and has no pigment at all. It reflects whatever color light shines on it. This is demonstrated visually by showing a polar bear at a disco and all the light reflecting off of it.
The color palettes and panel sizes change quite frequently to keep a young child’s attention. For example, in the chapter on how polar bears hunt seals, there was one panel that had purple, blue and red. This scene featured a crusty, pirate looking seal. He’s got a band-aide on his shoulder, a tattoo and several scars across his body. The next panel was in green breaking down the various parts of the seal’s body that provide nutrients for the polar bears. It is noted that it is the seal fat that is a huge component of their diet. The diagram shows through the different colors how much of the seal contains fat. The concluding panel is in yellow and shows a gleaming polar bear eating a stack of seal fat that looks like pancakes. For parents concerned that this chapter might be scary for children, there is nothing overly graphic about seal hunting. There is a good blend of humor mixed in to balance out any menace.
You may find yourself blown away by all the fun facts you will discover in the next Science Comics title, Wild Weather: Storms, Meteorology, and Climate. The story starts with a weatherman, Norman, who is trying to deliver a report. He keeps getting interrupted by one of the news anchors, Chase, and gets fed up with the anchor’s ignorance about the weather. He decides to school Chase in the ways of meteorology. Norman starts with how weather forecasting was done in medieval times. They look at what was falling from the sky, referring to them as four different types of meteors.
The art and structure of Wild Weather is similar to Polar Bears, it also keeps things visually interesting by changing the panel sizes and colors. It also takes its time, whether that is to explain how the weather was foretold in the past or illustrate all the different types of clouds (which takes seven pages). In that cloud section, the heights and the thinness or thickness, as well as facial expression given, is shown to indicate that bad weather is on its way. The graphic novel also contains a glossary, weather tools, and a myths debunked section in the back matter.
Both of these new entries into the Science Comics series will make wonderful additions to children’s graphic novel collections. They take complex science concepts and simplify them appropriately for the elementary school grade level. Children will not only be entertained by the humor, but learn a lot about polar bears and meteorology.
Polar Bears: Survival on the Ice
by Jason Viola
Art by Zack Giallongo
First Second, 2019
Publisher Age Rating: Age 9-13
Wild Weather: Storms, Meteorology, and Climate
By MK Reed
Art by Jonathan Hill
First Second, 2019
Publisher Age Rating: 9-13