The Polar Bear Explorers' Club

LONG LIST REVIEW: The Polar Bear Explorers' Club

Polar Bear.jpg

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.

The Polar Bear Explorers' Club

Today is International Polar Bear Day which gives me a tenuous link for reviewing this little beauty!


Stella has a good life with her adoptive father, Felix, but she longs to join him on his travels with The Polar Bear Explorers' Club which he is a member of.

Stella had wanted to be an explorer ever since she was old enough to know what the word meant. More specifically, she wanted to be a navigator.

Being a girl, such trips are forbidden until a chance allows her the opportunity to go with him and she is determined to prove herself a worthy member of the club.

However, things do not go according to plan and Stella and three other young members of the expedition get separated from the others. They must cross the frozen wilderness to re-join the rest of the group, overcoming many challenges along the way.

The Polar Bear Explorers' Club is a fantastic read from start to finish. Stella Starflake Pearl is an enchanting character and, with Gruff, the polar bear cub, and Felix, her wonderfully unique adoptive father, she captures interest from the very start of the story. And the book is full of a fabulous cast of characters- Shay, the wolf whisperer with Koa, his shadow wolf; Beanie, painfully shy, wonderfully individual, half-elf healer; and the arrogant, Ethan-  each beautifully brought to life. 

Rich with imaginative details, 'The Polar Bear Explorer's Club' offers a vividly portrayed world, full of surprises and touches of humour. A very different read to Alex Bell's YA fiction (I'm still haunted by 'Frozen Charlotte'- read our review  here ), this shows her ability to write for any age group. Hopefully, this is the first of a series about these characters! 

The Polar Bear Explorers' Club       Alex Bell

Faber and Faber     ISBN: 978-0571332540