June 10

‘Polar Boy’ by Sandy Fussell

polar boyThe title of the engaging and amazing novel that we’ve read as a class is cleverly named ‘Polar Boy’. ‘Polar Boy’ is a faction book as the story is incorporated with facts such as real places and real tribes of people. ‘Polar Boy’ is an action/adventure book as the tribe is on an action-packed  journey filled with twists and turns.

The author of ‘Polar Boy’ is Sandy Fussell and she has written many books such as the ‘Samurai Kids’ series and most recently ‘Sad the dog’. I haven’t read any of her other works. The illustrator of ‘Polar Boy’ is Wayne Harris and he has illustrated many books including ‘Going Home’, ‘A Bitter Company’ and ‘Edge of the World’. I honestly thought the book was oddly relatable because the main character, Iluak, was trying to earn respect and become a man by facing the polar bear. This can be associated with an adolescent’s journey.

The time period that the book was set in was the 14th century. The place or setting the novel was Baffin Island and Baffin Bay. The setting seems real and convincing as it isn’t a fictional place and it was a type of book where I was engaged in the story so I felt like I was actually in it. The characters also seem real as Eskimos are a real race of people. This may seem cliché but I feel that the main character Iluak stands out and appeals to me the most.

The novel is quite an engaging adventure because I enjoy action and adventure books. It is a convincing story and it sends a powerful message of unity by the Northmen and the tribe making peace with each other. The ending of the story was okay. I would have liked it if it was more action packed or had a plot twist. I personally didn’t like the author’s writing style in this particular book. The theme or overall message of the book is unity.

First of all the relevance of illustrations in a book such as a front cover are extremely important as it can do many things such as: if it has a visual representation of a character this can paint a mental picture of the character in the reader’s head. This also works for the setting and many other things. The front cover is simple but still amazing as sometimes simple is all something needs to be. The illustration on the front cover gives an identification of place and a indication of what is upcoming in the story but the illustration still doesn’t add to it.

I quite enjoyed ‘Polar Boy’ as it was engaging and action packed. My favourite part of the story was when Iluak’s grandma told him to put his ear to the ice even though his grandma lost half of her ear from being frozen. I would recommend ‘Polar Boy’ to children and teenagers from ages twelve to fourteen as I believe it would be more appealing and engaging to that age group. Overall I believe ‘Polar Boy’ is an amazing and engaging book and Sandy Fussell is a skilled author so I would rate the book a six out of ten.

Jack. O., Year 8

……

Living without challenge is no life at all?

It’s true. Life has many challenges. Some bad, some good, some we learn from and some we don’t. All part of life’s adventures.

In ‘Polar Boy’ by Sandy Fussell, Iluak needs to face his fears. Therefore it’s a huge challenge for him. He’s faced many along the way, like when he saw his first bear. Iluak found a bear in a cave. He was terrified and his feet were frozen to the snow when he saw it, only to realise it was a sick cub. The cub’s nose was crusted with dry mucus, its fur sodden in dirty patches and frozen saliva hangs from its partly open mouth. That’s when Iluak needed to face his fears and approach the bear and help him the best way he could.

Iluak’s other challenge was seal hunting which he went along to with his family and friends.

“Seal hunting became a near death experience for me. Still knowing the ice is thin I still try and catch the seal only thing is the ice cracks open and I go under like I was afraid of. It was so cold colder than I’ve ever been before. That’s when my body numbs and my clothes drag me down. I can feel water filling my nose. Nana knew this would happen. ‘Don’t be afraid’, she said.”

Therefore Iluak experienced a bad challenge but with a great outcome. The seal managed to push him out of the icy water and allowed him to live.

Another challenge in life is learning to get along with each other. But sometimes we find it difficult to get along with people we might not like. Tuaq was never one of lluak’s favourite people, in fact Iluak never got on with him. Tuaq was name calling his little sister and his friend, things Iluak didn’t like. Yet both were very much alike. Both were very competitive. They shared a bond throughout a whale hunting trip. Tuaq saved Iluak’s life just like the seal saved his.

“But Tuaq is still standing up front, arms raised, praying for us all. Horrified, I watch as a wave rises like a giant talon, to wrap itself around Tuaq’s waist and claw him into the ocean.”

Life throws many challenges our way but most challenges teach us things along the way. Whether they’re bad or good we need them to help us grow into adulthood.

James R., Year 8

…….

In a land of snow and ice, Iluak and his village try to survive this weather and enjoy their time with friends and family. Iluak’s journey has been difficult and life-threatening at many times but he was never killed. This made him strive to become a stronger person for his journey into a man. ‘Polar boy’ is a novel by Sandy Fussell. She has written many other books, such as ‘Samurai boy’, but I haven’t read other books by Sandy Fussell.

Iluak’s journey is to overcome his fears and the ancient ones whisper to Nana and she tells Iluak that they talk about him and that a bear is waiting for him. This challenge for Iluak’s journey has only begun – the journey for him to finally meet this bear who is waiting for him. This journey might kill him but it’s worth it if he survives because life without a challenge isn’t a life worth living. Through the life-threatening challenges, if he survives them this will make him stronger in intelligence and in physical appearance for the next challenges that come his way.

Iluak doesn’t like his life on the line but his resilience gives him strength and he is not afraid to put his life on the life. These type of quality makes him a brave and strong person who is trying his best in his journey. He could fail but it is better than not trying at all.

Though his journey is tough, he endures because he wants to meet the bear that’s waiting for him. On his journey a strange man comes to his village and says that his village has all been murdered by Normans but Nana and Papa don’t trust him and his knives and doesn’t allow him to stay.

What I liked about this book is when Iluak fell into the water and started to give up because the Raven was trying to steal his soul but Nana was protecting Iluak. When he was losing hope and he felt like he had died a seal comes up and brings him up to the top of the ice. I didn’t like it whenever he was going to die. Someone or something always came to save him so the story became predictable whenever Iluak went into a battle.

 I didn’t really like this book because it soon became predictable and got boring after reading for a while. At some points the book was good to read but at others it was really boring and not enjoyable.

Matthew K-H., Year 8

……

In the novel ‘Polar Boy’, a young boy called Iluak faces challenges that seem impossible to succeed in by his age but he finds a way to solve his problems and overcomes his fears. That makes him stronger.

In the book, Iluak finds himself having to unite two tribes:, a ruthless, violent tribe called the Northmen, in our time called the Vikings, and his own tribe, a peaceful group living in a cold environment that have no clue how to fight with previous warriors with children and elderly. Iluak is frightened and wants to drop out of this massive task but in the end he manned up and decided to risk his life in order to save his tribe from a brutal war. Iluak finds his courage afterwards and decides to head with the Northmen to explore the world outside his freezing home. This shows that Iluak has grown stronger, as few people decide to venture out and leave everything andeveryone behind to start a new life.

 The book ‘Polar boy’ is set in the 14th century, going back into the history of when Vikings were roaming lands claiming it as their territory through war  in the cold regions where polar bears and mammoths were a dangerous thing for the polar tribes. In my opinion, out of all the characters, Iluak stands out the most. His bravery is greater than any other character in the book, having to face his fears and overcome them. He also saves a dying bear cub and unites two tribes to create peace. All the characters have their role and personality and create your pet peeves and character preferences.

In my opinion this story did not entertain me. My choice of book would’ve had more drama, violence and romance. I would recommend this book to younger audiences who aren’t into such a depth of detail for a book.

Ximena C., Year 8

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Posted June 10, 2016 by marjk in category Adventure stories, Girls Read, Guys Read, Historical fiction, Realistic fiction, Student Reviews

About the Author

Teacher-librarian at Aquinas College, Southport, Gold Coast, Australia

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