Despite changing climate and savage conditions, animals in the polar regions can still thrive. Author L. E. Carmichael’s 23rd children’s science book takes a fascinating look at how they manage it—and how young environmentalists can help.
Polar: Wildlife at the Ends of the Earth is Carmichael’s 23rd children’s science book. Carmichael’s 2020 release, The Boreal Forest, appears on “Best of” lists in both Canada and the US; it won the Information Book Award and received an honour in the Forest of Reading, Canada’s largest children’s choice awards program.
Fuzzy Forensics, based on Carmichael’s first-hand experience fighting crimes against wildlife, won the 2014 Lane Anderson Award for best Canadian children’s science book.
Carmichael said she writes to fire children’s imaginations and spark their curiosity.
“So many people have the idea that science is a collection of facts they have to memorize,” Carmichael said. “My mission is to help kids discover what science is really about—asking questions, paying attention, and staying alert to the wonders of the natural world.”
Wonders certainly abound in Polar, which features both iconic animals—like polar bears and penguins—and weirder species, like woolly bear caterpillars and glow-in-the-dark lantern sharks.
“One of my favourite critters uses projectile vomit to protect itself from predators,” Carmichael said. “My inner kid thinks that’s hilarious, and I suspect actual kids will, too.”
Newly released from Kids Can Press, Polar draws on meticulous research and first-hand experience. Carmichael attended junior high while living in Yellowknife, and has vivid memories of polar night and the midnight sun.
“My teenage brain did not like either one, but the land and its creatures got into my blood,” she said.
That’s one reason the University of Alberta alumna chose to study northern wolves and arctic foxes for her PhD in wildlife genetics. Her dissertation won the Governor General’s Academic Medal.
Polar shows how Arctic and Antarctic species have adapted to the challenges posed by their habitats, including bitter cold, ferocious winds, and darkness lasting up to six months. But the adaptations which currently help them might harm them as their habitats continue to change.
“Climate change is a real and pressing danger for many of these species, but there is still so much we can do to protect them,” Carmichael said.
Her book includes ways that junior environmental activists can take action.
“I want my readers to feel amazed, but also empowered to make a difference,” she said.
With stunning art by award-winning illustrator Byron Eggenschwiler, Polar debuts on May 2, 2023. Carmichael, who lives in Trenton, has planned several in-person and virtual events to celebrate the launch.
Visit her website at www.lecarmichael.com for a full schedule, plus free educational resources for parents and teachers.