Far to the North is a beautiful, although short little book about polar bears, snow and the northern lights. It has all the trappings of a good children's picture book. It is filled with gorgeous illustrations and a sweet, lyrical story perfect for reading (or listening) at bedtime. There is only a subtle bit of animation (a shimmering star in several scenes and gentle snow in several others), but it's just the right amount of animation for this story.
The story itself feels like a long poem or even a lullaby. The child narrator is not American (British or Australian perhaps), but her crisp accent actually adds a certain sophisticated feel to the story for American ears. The polar bears are beautifully drawn and the scenes with snow falling gently are really peaceful. I only wished the drawings of the northern lights might shimmer a bit - but really, this book is perfection for pajama storytime just as it is.
As a lover of snow, it made me long for less rain and more icy temperatures. Having lived in Alaska (many moons ago), it also made me long for those crisp, cold nights when neighbors call at 3am to tell you, "It's out!" The northern lights, that is. Not that I ever saw a polar bear in Sitka or Juneau, Alaska, but somehow this little iPad book manages to capture a 'feeling' that is reminiscent of a real night under the northern lights. I can't quite put my finger on it, but this book is somehow "quiet" despite being narrated & calming despite a tiny bit of animation.
Like other PicPocket books, this book is also solidly made, with easy page turn and simple settings to turn off narration. There is also a nice feature for children learning to read, that highlights the text as it is narrated. The only thing technically wrong with this app was that the book never reset to the beginning when I closed the app, although with a book this short, it's not that big of a deal, just unusual and a likely fix for the next update.
So if you're looking for a good title to read or listen along with your child at bedtime, look no further. And if polar bears & snow aren't your thing, check out some of their other titles. PicPocket books offers a wide variety of simple, narrated books.
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.
Take 2 Ventures LLC
2 - 4 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: Yes
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: No
Age: 3 - 8 +
Far to the North, by Gina Ricci, begins with this passage: "For as long as anyone can remember, polar bears have graced the Far North. This story celebrates the beauty and majesty of the polar bear." [This page is the only part of the book not narrated] Illustrated in soft blues and white, this story follows a family of polar bears as they watch the night sky. Then as they roam during the day, the baby polar bear is shown swimming, playing and fishish before the next night approaches, full of stars and snow. Then the books ends with a "Shh!" as the bears go to sleep.