Anderson spent close to two decades working for the BBC as a naturalist. Having captured the first aerial footage of migrating narwhals for a wildlife documentary, he tells the story of these beautifully mysterious creatures as they traverse the freezing Arctic waters to breed – foraging the icy depths for food and avoiding polar bears when seeking air.
On their journey, Anderson sheds light on their nature, habitat, lifespan and social habits. Placed separately from the written narrative on each spread is a concise, scientific section that provides further insights into narwhal behaviour. Presented in a smaller, more delicate font, these can be accessed and read by the adult sharing the book with a younger, less accomplished reader or read independently by the more fluent reader.
Alongside the written narrative and factual aids are Weaver’s gorgeous full-page double spreads. Her charcoal illustrations are perfect for this story with deep ocean blues brimming with depth, and long, rolling icy peaks almost glowing against rich blue skies. The narwhals themselves, and the wildlife they encounter along the way, are gently captured; Anderson’s words and Weaver’s illustrations do much to bring these reclusive ‘arctic unicorns’ to life.
There is a growing resurgence in texts that fuse fact and fiction within a beautifully illustrated narrative and I welcome them. This kind of partnership invites the reader into these worlds rather than keeping them at a distance. The Arctic Unicorn is perfect for readers who are curious about the natural world and its inhabitants.