Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Frozen Wild: How Animals Survive in the Coldest Places on Earth

Frozen Wild: How Animals Survive in the Coldest Places on Earth

Jim Arnosky
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 7 to 10
Sterling Children's Books, 2015   ISBN: 978-1454910251

Thanks to the tilt of the Earth’s axis, every year winter arrives in the northern hemisphere in December and in the southern hemisphere in June. In non-tropical regions temperatures dip, rain and snow falls, and animals have to adapt if they are going to survive these adverse weather conditions. Some simply leave, flying or swimming to warmer climes, but many stay where they are.

In this beautiful book Jim Arnosky, who is a skilled artist and knowledgeable naturalist, combines full-color annotated paintings, pencil sketches, and sections of text to show young readers how animals who live in cold places survive the winter months.

In many places temperatures get so low that rivers and lakes freeze over, but beneath the ice life goes on. Otters seek out places where there are holes in the ice or where it is thin and they break through to hunt for fish and crustaceans in the water below. Diving ducks such as mergansers also use holes in the ice to seek out food.

In places where there are heavy snowfalls, the animals have to be able to get around to find food. Smaller animals such as mice, voles, and squirrels can skitter around on top of the snow, or tunnel beneath it, but for bigger animals such as deer, deep snow can make them slow moving, and therefore vulnerable to predators. Deer get around this problem by creating trails that they follow and use should a predator try to attack.

Staying warm in cold weather can also present challenges. Many animals eat a great deal in the fall to build up a layer on insulating fat around their bodies. They also grow a “dense woolly undercoat” and an “outer coat of luxurious guard hairs.” Together these two layers cover the animal from ears to tail so that no cold air can touch the skin. Birds fluff up their feathers to stay warm.

Of course the animals that are the true masters of surviving cold temperatures are those that live in the Arctic and Antarctic. The author explores the animals in these two regions as well, showing us how seals, polar bears, penguins, and other creatures have adapted over time to live in places where winters are long and hard.

Using five fold-out pages, in addition to two standard spreads, the author gives readers the opportunity to explore cold environments that are packed with animal species from around the world. In an author’s note at the back of the book, Jim Arnosky tells us why he decided to create this title and where he got his information from. He also tells us how we too can get to know some of the animals mentioned in the book.