“It sounded like a respectable and worthy enough death for an explorer – tumbling from an ice bridge to be impaled upon a mammoth tusk – but Stella really, really didn’t want that to happen, just the same.”
-Alex Bell, The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club
Hi everyone! A few of you might have noticed that last year I decided I wanted to read more middle grade books, as I was writing a MG book of my own which rekindled my love for the magic of middle grade. One of the books I read in the last few days of December was The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club by Alex Bell, which the lovely people at Faber & Faber sent to me. Thank you!
Here’s the blurb:
Meet Shay Silverton Kipling, the Captain’s son and wolf whisperer.
Ethan Edward Rook, magician and Ocean Explorer.
Beanie, half elf, medic and, well, you have to meet Beanie…
And Stella Starflake Pearl, orphan and most determined of explorers.
When Stella joins the Polar Bear Explorers on an expedition to the Icelands, her eyes are opened to a world of danger, adventure and snow pirates!
Out in the icy wilds there are giant yetis, magical golden geese, terrifying carnivorous cabbages and important new friendships to be made.
Join the explorers on an unforgettable adventure across the ice…
This was such a great read! It was exciting and fast-paced and packed with sheer imagination. Stella doesn’t know who her birth parents were, but she’s immensely happy living with her adopted father, Felix, who’s a member of the illustrious Polar Bear Explorers’ Club, an organisation that goes on exciting trips around this fantasy world. When her stuffy aunt threatens her with a boarding school that would be ‘suitable’ for young ladies, instead her father takes Stella with him to the Club headquarters to convince them to let her join as the first female member.
Desperate to prove herself, Stella sets out on an expedition with other explorers, but things don’t quite go as planned and she soon finds herself swept up into a whirlwind adventure with friends new and old.
Stella is a great main character; brave and independent and smart, she was a delight to read about! As were her friends, who were a great bunch of characters and well-fleshed out. There is some mystery about Stella’s true identity, along with the details of some of the other characters’ pasts. With black and white illustrations by Tomislav Tomic inside the book, the story was brought to life nicely and roared along at a great pace, with plenty of excitement and intrigue.
My favourite part of the whole book, however, was the world building. Alex Bell has created a fabulously memorable world, where tiny dinosaurs might roam your breakfast table, unicorns not only exist but are rideable, and miniature penguins living inside of an igloo mirror Stella’s day to day life. Plus, ice! And snow! And plenty of exploring.
Overall, I absolutely loved this book and found it truly delightful. If you have children, students, or love middle grade yourself, then I highly recommend this one! 5/5 stars.
Thanks for reading everyone! Has anyone else read this one? What did you think of it? What are your favourite middle grade books?