nonfiction nuggets…when winter is its winteriest

Survival at 40 Below, by Debbie S. Miller, illustrations by Jon Van Zyle

At 40 below zero, my car probably wouldn’t start; water pipes burst; exposed skin freezes in next to no time.

Yet a large variety of wildlife survives these brutal temperatures in the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, located above the Arctic Circle,  in Alaska.  How do they do it?

Lots of different ways.  They gobble up food to get fat, and cleverly store up food in secret crannies.  They pump  special “antifreeze”  solutions through their bodies to protect their cells from ice crystals.  Their hearts slow w-a-y- down — or even stop beating altogether!  They change color, smell food through snowdrifts, grow extra fur.  Each creature, from tiny caterpillars and bumblebees, to massive musk oxen and grizzly bears; creatures that fly, or swim, or burrow; creatures with feathers, fur, or scales; each one has its own astonishing systems for survival.

Debbie Miller and Jon Van Zyle’s work has been featured in Orange Marmalade before.   They are an awesome team!  Both have lived in Alaska for decades and have created a number of fascinating books about life there.  The information in this book is presented in very clear, interesting language, neither talking down to children nor overwhelming us with copious information.  Kids and adults alike will enjoy the descriptions and explanations Miller provides.  Van Zyle’s paintings are beautiful, artistic portrayals of the landscapes and wildlife in this stunning region.  Great collaboration on a incredibly interesting subject.

In small print at the back of the book, we are invited to visit Debbie Miller’s website, where we can learn more and hear the sounds of the arctic animals.  By all means, visit this site!  I listened to the ptarmigan, and it was…so very odd!  I never would have guessed I was listening to any sort of bird! 

You can visit Debbie Miller’s website by clicking on this link: