October 9, 2020

Macky Reads: Just Beyond the Very, Very Far North

First, let me start by saying that this book has evoked so many feelings in me that I am hard-pressed to believe I can possibly be objective in this review. That said, I am still a bag of emotions after reading this very well-written sequel. 

I’d reviewed The Very, Very Far North and loved it immensely, thinking it was going to be joining the ranks of the Winnie the Pooh books of the world but for this generation. This sequel evokes absolutely that same kind of energy but with such an intense twist. On the surface, little kids will get a pretty action and activity packed journey, especially with the introduction of a rather disruptive (and dare I say, sinister) force that basically manages to cause some real harm to Duane the polar bear and his friends. 

There is a LOT of growing up in this book that only people who are growing up or who have grown up a bit (I mean, who stops really?) will recognize. Difficult conversations, decisions and even acts of relationship bravery take center stage at the climax of this book. Was I prepared? Absolutely not. Like most people, when growth comes, I hide. Why? Because growing pains. But sooner or later, life catches up with you and you just have to BEAR it, like Duane does in his most on brand unassuming main protagonist way. (See what I did there? Also, let me see myself out).

So, before I devolve into so many more bear puns in the context of the pretty hefty themes of this book, I will end by saying not only was it a delight to be reunited with Duane and his friends, but the art by Kelly Pousette compliments Dan Bar-El’s writing so beautifully. 

This has gone very much above and beyond The Very, Very Far North into territory I did not even think it could go. Personally, it was a bit of a slow start but that’s really just the nature of this kind of book, I suppose. It’s a series of vignettes, a slice of very, very far north life at a time served in poignant portions. If anything, it’s endeared these characters to me even more. The first book was the forming of their connections. This sequel, on the other hand, is the strengthening of them, and boy, what a lovely ride it was.

Pub Info: October 6, 2020 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Previous Book in the Series: The Very, Very Far North


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