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About the Author

Helen Cowcher is the author and illustrator of five picture books that have been published in multiple languages around the world. Her next book, Desert Elephant, will be available from Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2011. She lives in England.


Dramatic illustrations deftly blend light and shadow as they depict the rigorous--and threatened--existence of ``emperor penguins, Weddell seals and Adelie penguins'' on the frozen continent. Ages 5-8. (Oct.)

PreS-Gr 2 --In story form, Cowcher attempts to describe life for emperor and Adelie penguins and Weddell seals during one Antarctic winter and spring as they nest, give birth, and raise their young. Harsh weather makes survival difficult, but the true enemy may be the men who have a base camp near the Adelies' nesting area; their helicopter frightens the penguins away, allowing the predatory skuas access to their eggs. A few instances of anthropomorphism are unfortunate and glaringly intrusive: an emperor penguin is described as huddling with ``his friends,'' and the story closes with the seals and penguins wondering whether ``. . . the new arrivals . . . will share or destroy their beautiful Antarctica . . .'' Some of the watercolor illustrations are too cute--baby emperor penguins and Weddell seals have the round-faced quality of the worst greeting-card art. Others are misleading--``a ferocious leopard seal,'' enemy to the penguins, appears to be a gentle, smiling creature, and a drawing of the emperor penguins trudging back to their rookery looks like the penguins are walking on water, with huge waves behind them. Since little is available on this level that deals directly with the problems facing Antarctica, most libraries will want to add this to their collections; its didactic but important message outweighs its faults. --Ellen Fader, Westport Public Library, CT

-Stunningly vivid and gorgeous pictures . . . The briskly minimal text is clear, informative, and astute.- --Entertainment Weekly-A spectacular book.- --The Horn Book-Visually dazzling.- --The New York Times Book Review-Dramatic illustrations deftly blend light and shadow as they depict the rigorous--and threatened--existence of emperor penguins, Weddell seals, and Adelie penguins on the frozen continent.- --Publishers Weekly-[A] handsome, eloquent defense of a threatened environment. In simple text and elegantly designed double-spread paintings . . . Cowcher describes the behavior of three species that share a common habitat; then shows how . . . the presence of man can disrupt the nesting of thousands.- --Kirkus Reviews

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