Book Review: Lily and the Polar Bears, by Jion Sheibani

This picture book tells the tale of a group of stranded polar bears who are befriended by Lily at the beach, with an underlying message of acceptance, generosity and the way our community is made up by different cultures.


A beautiful, compassionate and enlightened look at refugees and the way they can benefit a community.

This picture book, on the surface, tells the tale of a group of stranded polar bears who are befriended by Lily at the beach. The language is simple, the illustrations are stylised and warm, but the underlying message of acceptance and generosity shines through.

When the polar bears are washed ashore and explain their plight to Lily, she does what any child would do: she invites them home to stay in the guest room and tree house after dinner. Her parents are equally welcoming, serving fish fingers and ice cream, then allowing the bears to stay until they find their own places. Meanwhile Lily introduces them to the children and adults of her town and discovers their many talents. The bears end up being accepted as useful and productive community members.

The final illustration of a polar bear opening its door to a large group of penguins, with the expectation that the whole process would repeat, is absolutely golden.

A book for children aged 3 to 7 years old and one that has the potential to help instil a deeper understanding of the many differing cultures that can make up our communities.

Reviewed by Leanne Caune

Rating out of 10:  9

Distributed by: Allen and Unwin
Released: November 2018
RRP: $14.99

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