Children's books

Feeling the Summer Heat? This Book is Way Cool!

Book reviews are a wonderful way to dip your toe into the waters and decide if you want to dive into a book. So on this hot August day, I thought I’d share some of the cool reviews Arctic White has gotten over the years.

Helen, an Amazon customer, writes about color being a metaphor for hope in this lovely review:

This book was easy for my first grader to read alone. Even though the words are deceptively simple, this is a rich and deep story. You could really see and feel the shades of white surrounding the girl because those shades surround us too sometimes.

I love color as the metaphor for hope. First, the grandfather tells the little girl that hope is golden and you see it looking into snowy owl’s eyes. Then, hope is in the colors of the Northern Lights. The girl and her grandfather along with friends who also “hope for color” go on a journey across the tundra and over snowy mountains and sit in the dark to await the Northern Lights. “Tonight you welcome the darkness because you need dark to see…Northern Lights.” The girl remembers the colors and back home draws pictures full of color and puts them up on her walls. The story ends with, “When you live in the Artic in winter, everything is a shade of white. But inside, there is hope.”

We all need to put the effort into seeing colors and storing them inside to remember when we are surrounded by only shades of white. Loved, loved this story.

This five star review comes from Katie at She says:

Here are two reasons why I love Arctic White
(1) It’s an ART book. The beautiful illustrations represent the little girl’s perspective, and I so appreciate White’s detail. The page on which one can see the grandfather’s face hairs is stunning.  But in addition to its illustrations, Arctic White is also a book about the human necessity to create, to remember, to express hope through art. Society has a tendency to overemphasize science and math, so a book like this is so important. Even though it is a children’s picture book, Arctic White can be used to introduce more complex YA books about art (see I’ll Give you the Sun and Fans of the Impossible Life (upcoming review).

(2) It’s a book about natural beauty just as much as it is about one’s inner beauty. Having spent time watching a livestream of the National Arboretum eaglets recently, I really appreciate the book’s commitment to the amazing beauty of our world.  There was something about watching those little eaglets in the nest that made me proud to be human, proud to be alive – and amazed by what happens in our world. And I think readers of Arctic White will empathize with the hope the little girl finds in the natural world and the way in which the Northern Lights reflect her inner beauty.

Click here to read Katie’s full review and check out her teaching ideas to use with Arctic White.

And last but not least, this reviewer at Pickle Corn Jam really gets what was in the heart and mind of the author (me) when writing this book (I love it when that happens!) and addresses culture :

The day I purchased this book at the bookstore, I sat and read thirty or forty recently published picture books. I only bought one: Arctic White by Danna Smith (and three or four chapter books, and a couple of novels, and a board game, and…#bookstoreproblems).

Arctic White tells the tale of a little girl who hopes and waits for something more than white in all of the white of the Arctic, until the day her grandfather takes her on a journey to view the Northern Lights.

Like several of the books I’ve recently reviewed, the text is spare. In this story however, the spare text helps to emphasize the seeming lack of depth in the Arctic tundra in winter, where “everything is a shade of white” and “winter days are dark as night.” Yet even with so few words, Danna Smith manages to imbue the text with subtle glances into deeper subjects, and reminds us that nature is never really lacking.

She neatly juxtaposes the warmth the little girl feels for her grandfather with the cold that “always finds a way to sneak inside your warmest parka.” She reminds us of the hope the little girl feels, on the longest journey where “even footprints are white in the Arctic” through her grandfather’s glowing lantern. Smith ties the wondrous beauty of nature and the Northern Lights back to the little girl’s love of her grandfather, as the Northern Lights not only remind her to welcome the dark but also help her see “the twinkle in his eye.” And since the little girl has an artist’s eye for color (the blue-white versus the yellow-white versus the silver-white), of course she remembers the beauty through art.

Several reviews of this book mention that there isn’t enough (or any) space given to setting or culture. While this is true, I don’t feel that the story really needs it. There is always pressure to put more into our stories, to make them more useful for school readings and to teach children about the world. But there is so much more to teaching children than teaching history and place. There is hope, patience, trust, family, wonder, nature, art…and these are the lessons that Danna Smith teaches beautifully. 

Click here to read the full review at and check out other amazing book reviews on the blog.

Click here to add Arctic White to your playlist.

Arctic White

written by Danna Smith

illustrated by Lee White

published by Henry Holt

ISBN-13: 978-1627791045

ASIN: B019CALS04 e-book

One thought on “Feeling the Summer Heat? This Book is Way Cool!

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