Claire Saxby and Jess Racklyeft whisk readers away to the continent of Antarctica in a beautiful and mesmerising read. I will call it early and say that this will be one of the best picture books that I read in 2021.
The Aurora Australis flit across the night sky, the last signs of an Antarctic winter. Spring time, the time of birth and new life. And born from a glacier, something most beautiful…an iceberg. Wildlife begins to stir and awaken. Penguins march, birds swoop, the oceans are alive with krill, fish, orcas, whales, squid and seals. And witnessing it all, the iceberg which is rocked and pushed by the Antarctic winds. As seasons come and go, so does the wildlife. Cooler weather and darker skies signal the time to move, Antarctica slips into a winter slumber of endless nights until the arrival of a new spring. One iceberg is losing its battle to live, slowly succumbing to the ocean but another one is just about to be born. And so the lifecycle of an iceberg repeats…
Iceberg tells the lifecycle of a single iceberg from birth to death in Antarctica, charting its life from Spring to Spring the following year. Readers are immersed into the spectacular environment of Antarctica as they witness the changing of the seasons, the wildlife that comes and goes and the delicate balance of an ecosystem that is suffering the consequences of human actions.
The utterly beautiful book is informative, detailed and chock full of facts. Saxby’s poetic prose are vocabulary rich and deserve to be read slowly and savoured. It is the kind of book that will fill children with awe and wonder. From the first page to the last, readers will be whispering ‘wows’, ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’. Every turn of the page is breathtaking and is a visual treat as the the incredible landscape of Antarctica, both above and beneath the ice, is revealed and brought to life. Jess Racklyeft’s evocative illustrations bring colour and energy to a landscape that is a far stretch from perhaps our impressions of a simple blue and white. A stunning double fold out page is mightily impressive and would not look out of place in an art gallery.
Whilst beautiful and magical, Iceberg presents a bleak and sad picture of the effects of global warming and climate change. In Antarctica, the icebergs and polar glaciers are melting at an alarming rate, habitats are being lost and ever rising sea temperatures pose a massive problem. This is emphasised by Saxby’s heartfelt afterword which serves as an important and impassioned plea to take care of the planet and to help protect its delicate ecosystems.
Iceberg is a masterpiece and is a book that I will be going back to time and time again to get lost in its powerful words and to immerse myself in the wonderful landscapes. Expect this book to be winning many awards in 2021.
Recommended for 5+.