When the Weather Outside is Cold

Survival at 40 Below

When the January wind starts to blow, and we are driven inside from the cold, it is a great time to learn how animals and people survive and thrive in the colder areas of the globe.  Three books our children have read (or were read aloud) are:

Survival at 40 Below, by Debbie S. Miller, describes life just north of the Arctic Circle in Alaska's Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve.  The book begins in autumn.  Animals are scurrying to prepare for the next eight months of winter.  Miller explains how a wide variety of animals get ready for snow and survive cold winter temperatures.  We were fascinated by the frog freezing and the squirrel's cyclic hibernation.  Another interesting tidbit we learned was about a caterpillar that spends 14 winters in the caterpillar phase and after those years, just one summer as a moth.  The book concludes with an author's note explaining her inspiration behind the book and a glossary defining possible unfamiliar terms.

Another book set in an Arctic winter is Welcome to the Ice House, by Jane Yolen.  A plethora of animals from land to sea who find homes in the frigid Arctic winter are presented.  Lovely illustrations by Laura Regan set a tranquil tone and the lyrical text creates a melodious read aloud.  A final page entitled "Did You Know?" explains the origin of the term 'arctic' and offers the University of Alaska Museum website address for more information.

For a different perspective on the cold, the book Antler, Bear, Canoe: A Northwoods Alphabet Year, by Betsy Bowen depicts life in the northwoods of Minnesota.  While moving through the alphabet, Bowen shares a bit about the northwoods from January to December.  Each entry portrays an activity, observation, or incident from the author's life.  This provides readers with a more personal connection with life in the northwoods.  The wood block illustrations lend to the rustic appeal of the book.

Over the years, we have enjoyed a great variety of books set in the Arctic or winter time.  Below, I have listed a few all time favorites.

Other books set in the Arctic or cold, winter time:
In the Far North, by Lola Kamalova
Arctic Son, by Jean Craighead George
The Long Winter, by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Adventures of an Arctic Missionary series, by Gloria Repp
Trapped by the Mountain Storm, by Aileen Fisher
Snowflake Bentley, by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
Tikta'Liktak: An Inuit-Eskimo Legend, retold by James Houston

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