Stella had wanted to an explorer ever since she was old enough to know what the word meant. More specifically, she wanted to be a navigator. She never got tired of looking at maps and globes, and as far as she was concerned, a compass was just about the most beautiful thing in the whole entire world. After unicorns, obviously.
Stella Starflake Pearl lives with her adoptive father, Felix, a member of the Polar Bear Explorers' Club. She longs to be a navigator, railing against the injustice of girls not being allowed to be explorers. So when the chance for her to accompany Felix on an expedition arises, Stella jumps at it.
Finding herself on an expedition to the Icelands, a place of great beauty, but also great danger, Stella soon needs to use all her skills as she and the other junior explorers become separated from the rest of the group. What follows is an amazing adventure, full of magic, challenges to overcome and the discovery of true friendship.
From the first page, the world of 'The Polar Bear Explorers' Club' completely absorbs the reader, surrounding them with magic and wonder. Giant yetis, golden geese, unicorns and pet polar bear cubs all mingle with a cast of memorable and lovable characters. Felix is wonderfully unique and quirky- who wouldn't want to be a fairyologist!- and Alex Bell captures his relationship with Stella in perfectly crafted lines-
Stella looked up into his face- her favourite face in the whole world...
The other junior explorers have little in common with one another and it takes their quest to regain the rest of the expedition for them to come to understand and accept each other's foibles and respect each others strengths, uniting them in friendship and loyalty. Beanie is my favourite of the group, reminding me of several children I have taught and admired over the years.
With humour, tension and excitement along the way, this is a fabulous book for engaging children looking for a satisfying read which is rich in description and atmosphere. Illustrations by Tomislav Tomic bring certain scenes alive in line drawings. 'The Polar Bear Explorers' Club' is a book I'd love to work with a class on as well as I think the results would be fantastic! Hopefully, it will be the first in a series.
The Polar Bear Explorers' Club Alex Bell, illustrations by Tomislav Tomic
Faber and Faber ISBN: 978-0571332540
You can read another review of 'The Polar Bear Explorers' Club' here.