Pup and Bear
Illustrated by Naoko Stoop Published October 3, 2017
The Arctic is big and frightening for one small lost wolf pup—especially when he finds himself nose to nose with a polar bear. After all polar bears eat wolves. But not this one.
Bear may not be Pup’s mother, but she keeps him safe and teaches him to make his own way through the wide world. And when Pup is no longer a pup and finds himself nose to nose with a host bear cub, the cycle begins again in the wondrous wheel of life.
A lost wolf pup is taken in by a polar bear in Banks and Stoops' sweet arctic tale. As winter descends on the Arctic tundra, a young wolf pup becomes separated from his pack, isolated on an ice floe. He swims to shore, tired and cold, and finds himself face to face with a large polar bear. Frightened, the pup is perplexed when the bear nuzzles him rather than attacking: "Aren't you going to eat me?" After all, "Polar bears eat wolves." "Not this one" is the polar bear's reply, and she explains that though she is not his mother, she can keep him safe and warm. The two stay together through the Big Freeze and the Big Melt, the bear teaching the pup how to fish, playing with him, and, when the time comes, gently sending him out into the world on his own. The pup, now a fully grown arctic wolf, acquires a pack of his own, leading it over the tundra until, one day, he comes upon a small polar bear cub alone in the snow and pays forward the care he was shown as a pup. This quiet tale of kindness, adoption, and reciprocity uses sparse text to great effect among the crisp, wind-swept, snow-laden illustrations that practically crunch as the pages turn, cycling through the "wheel of life." A chilly tale to warm the heart.
School Library Journal
At the close of an Arctic winter, a wolf pup, stranded on an ice floe, is rescued by a polar bear. “I am not your mother,” says the bear, but she assures the fearful pup that she will care for and shelter him. As the seasons turn, she protects the pup, plays with him, and teaches him to fish until at last it is time to let him go. Now an adult leading his own pack, the wolf discovers a lone polar bear cub and brings the kindness shown to him full circle. The illustrations, rendered in acrylic, ink, pencil, and pastels and digitally finished, depict the landscape in muted shades of gray, blue, green, and tan, with occasional splashes of color as the sun breaks over the frozen tundra. Alert readers will notice the gradual change in the wolf pup’s coloring. Several other animals—puffins, a gray owl, a walrus, a snow goose, seals, and lemmings—also appear. The text contains poetic descriptions such as “fierce wind” that “holler[s] and roar[s],” and unexpected juxtapositions such as “[a] throb of silence.” VERDICT The lyrical writing makes this a wonderful read-aloud. This story of extraordinary kindness may also prompt a discussion of diverse families. A first purchase. –Marianne Saccardi, Children’s Literature Consultant, Cambridge, MA
The Bulletin of the Center For Children’s Books
As the spring thaw arrives, an arctic wolf pup finds himself lost and alone, separated from his pack. A polar bear finds him where he’s burrowed into the snow, and the pup faces the larger animal fearfully. Fortunately, this polar bear doesn’t eat wolves. “I am not your mother,” she says, “but I can cuddle you and keep you safe.” Stoop’s artwork, done in acrylic paint, ink, pencils, and pastels on plywood, evokes the vastness of the arctic landscape and affection between bear and pup in a palette of blues, greens, and golds, from saturated night skies speckled with stars to paler washes rendering the long summer days lit by the midnight sun. Smaller inset vignettes show the simply drawn wolf pup and polar bear playing, hunting, and cuddling through the seasons, the wood grain of the background adding texture to the images. When the thaw comes again the wolf is grown and ready to set off into the world on its own; soon, he comes upon a lost polar bear cub. “I am not your mother,” he tells the cub, “but you can stay with me until you’re big enough to be on your own.” Banks thereby emphasizes cycles of life and love across difference in this poignant tale, her graceful prose matching Stoop’s illustrations for warmth and beauty. Adults and children alike will want to return to this title about caretaking for reassurances of love in the present and promise for the future.