The Big Caribou Herd - Life in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Reviewed: August 16, 2005
By: written and illustrated by Bruce Hiscock
Publisher: Boyds Mills Press
32 pages, $25.50

Here, for the younger crowd, is a migration cycle in the life of the Porcupine Caribou Herd, covered from April until December. What’s different about it is that it focuses on the ANWR preserve itself. While the book opens with the caribou departing from their southern wintering grounds, and shows them at various stages of their migration, the focus is shared with the refuge itself, and the story is more about how that area changes over the months.

Big, double page watercolor and pencil illustrations give us the setting for each small chapter of the story. We are shown the lives of the other animals, birds and insects that inhabit the refuge, who are there before and after the caribou.

The arrival of the herd is a big event on the tundra, but we are reminded that they are there for only a few short weeks. These are important weeks in the life of the caribou, but there is other life which goes on all around them at the same time.

Younger children will need to have this book read to them. Each double page has perhaps 100 to 120 words of text on average, but they are not simple words, and some help will be needed.