I found Polar the Titanic Bear at a Goodwill for the nondescript price of $ .35. Printed across the front cover were the words ‘A True Story’, and the picture of Polar in his cute little sailor’s outfit did me in. I bought it. And I’m so glad I did.
Polar’s story begins inauspiciously as a seamstress stitches him together in a German toyshop. He is a stuffed animal and is part of a large order of toys which are being shipped to New York. As customers snatch Polar’s bear friends from the shelves around him, Polar can’t help but wonder if his turn will ever come. Finally a lady with red cheeks purchases Polar and gives him as a parting gift to her young nephew who is departing for a sea voyage.
Master, as Polar calls the boy, is a great traveler and Polar journeys through Portugal, Monte Carlo, Panama, Paris, and Algiers tucked securely under Master’s arm.
Finally, it is time to sail home. Polar is excited because they will be voyaging on the maiden trip of a huge new ship – the Titanic. The first few days are splendid – Master and Polar are luxuriously accomodated and Polar even gets to slide down the banister of the main staircase. But on the fifth night, he and Master are yanked out of bed and scurried up onto the main deck. What is all this fuss about? Why is everyone being crammed into lifeboats? And will Polar and Master survive the dreadful night until they are rescued by the Carpathia?
This book is a winner as far as all-around cuteness is concerned. Polar tells his story with a whimsical tone but without the snarky attitude of most children’s books. Polar is also a pleasure visually; it tells the story of the Titanic with a combination of pictures, postcards, pictures, and painted scenes, as well as words.
Lastly, although this isn’t exactly a praise, I loved how Master and Polar were almost always wearing matching outfits. If Master had a coat on, Polar had a coat on. If Master had a sailor’s outfit on, Polar had a sailor’s outfit on. If Master was sick in bed with a night-gown on, Polar was right there with him.
Some parents may be wary of a book narrated by a stuffed animal, but Polar never pretends to be alive and there is no communication between Polar and anyone else. He observes but does not speak.
One mention is made that Master let a little girlfriend play with Polar for an afternoon.
Conclusion. Polar the Titanic Bear tells the story of the Titanic in a way that you’ve never heard it before – through the eyes of a stuffed animal!
Review © 2012 Laura Verret