Children’s Book Review: Just Beyond the Very, Very Far North by Dan Bar-El
Just Beyond the Very, Very Far North
Series: The Very, Very Far North #2
Author: Dan Bar-El
Published: October 6, 2020
Reviewed By: Cristina
The adventures of Duane the polar bear and his arctic friends continue in this charming sequel to the modern-day classic The Very, Very Far North, which Booklist compared to Winnie the Pooh in a starred review.
Past the place where icebergs shiver, you will find the Very, Very Far North, where Duane and his friends are sure to make you feel right at home. You might like to share a delicious Snow Delight with warmhearted Duane. While you’re slurping away, if C.C. suddenly asks you where you’ve come from, it’s not because she’s nosy; she is simply gathering scientific data. If Handsome, the musk ox, pays a visit, a quick hair combing is highly recommended. Should you notice a quiet caribou grazing nearby, well, that’s just Boo’s way of saying hello.
And if a less-than-friendly visitor arrives to sneak, shove, and shake things up, Duane and the others might discover that life isn’t always as peaceful as mid-late-afternoon nap. Fortunately, they know that change is as much a part of life as picnics and Tuesdays and cozy stories shared among friends.
Duane is a polar bear. A kind one. He has a friend named Handsome who is a musk ox, and a vain one at that, C.C. the snowy owl, who is extremely scientific and a bit socially awkward, Twitch the artic hare who loves to bake, Magic the artic fox who is a bit mischievous and Major Puff, a puffin who may just have a crush on Twitch. Oh, and Boo! She’s a super shy reindeer with a secret talent. Together, they are learning about what it means to be a good friend and enjoy life in the Far North. And when a sneaky little weasel shows up to cause friction, this group of friends figures out how to work things out just fine.
At times I like to read a book or two that is simply warm and fuzzy. No crazy heart pounding adventures, no major mysteries, no dystopian governments to overthrow. Just a feel good story. Just Beyond the Very, Very Far North fit that bill perfectly. If you have a reader who enjoyed The Wild Robot or Winnie the Pooh, this story is for them. It was refreshing to read a story where kindness is valued, feelings are acknowledged–good or not so good–and community is valued as important. There is gentle humor throughout the book as well, and the narrator occasionally addresses the reader directly, a delightful “fourth wall” break used well. So, when you need a little break, settle in with Duane and his friends. Your heart will feel lighter for visiting with them.