I have always enjoyed settling down in front of the television with my husband and watching a nature programme. We both thoroughly enjoyed the recent showing of BBC's Frozen Planet as the narration by David Attenborough together with the captivating and most spectacular photography made the programme compelling viewing. In my work place we are regularly visited by a guy selling books who is known as "The Book Man" and a few weeks before Christmas I was delighted to see that he was selling copies of the official BBC book, Frozen Planet. Consequently, I snapped up a few copies as gifts; one of which I kept for myself and this review discusses my thoughts.
The hard covered book is slightly larger than A4 size and is extremely weighty with its 312 high quality thick glossy pages and is broken down into 11 chapters. It was the beautiful colour image contained on the front of the sleeve that initially captured by eye before I noticed the title as we are able to witness three stunning black and white whales poking their bodies through the broken icy waters. The inside cover prepares us for our magical and spectacular read where we are to "take a journey to the last truly great wilderness regions - the Arctic and Antarctic".
As I was familiar with the BBC series I could almost hear David Attenborough reading the Foreword to me. It is here that he discusses his involvement with the TV series, as he travelled to a camp situated at the North Pole, which is erected by the Russians on an annual basis. The book explores the natural habitat that has survived the arctic conditions although it is gradually diminishing due to changes in the earth's ever changing temperatures. We are taken on an epic journey through the seasons where we witness the most outstanding wildlife photography and learn about civilisation and their ways of life.
Exactly as I suspected the book has captured the remarkable essence of the TV series and I have to admit that I was useless with geography in school as I had absolutely no interest. Sir David Attenborough's foreword educates us on the changes in both the North and South of the Antarctic and the detrimental effect it is having on the wildlife and we are able to witness the most stunning and high quality colour photographs, which have captured the essence of his remarkable journey. Both my husband and I have always enjoyed watching and listening to David Attenborough as he has a unique way of relaying information and the book displays an image of him lying on the thick ice next to a seal and her pup.
The book is extremely educational and I learned so much as I find the subject matter so fascinating. There are the most captivating images of the frozen sea; a concept with is rather difficult to grasp where we learn that it is 2½ miles deep with thick ice. In addition to the high quality colour photographs, which are on alternative pages throughout the entire book, we are provided with a considerable amount of text, which is presented in an easy to read font. The first chapter of the book discusses in great detail the temperatures at the North Pole and the reasons why the sun rises for only six months of the year. The authors, namely Alastair Fothergill and Vanessa Berlowitz have written the book in such a way that it is easy to understand and would be appealing to children as well as adults.
The images of the wildlife contained throughout the book are truly spectacular where we see the most gorgeous polar bears and learn about their lives from mating, birth and hunting. There is a large amount of text and accompanying images that I found difficult to comprehend where I learned about snow volcanoes and how and why they are formed. I found the entire book totally captivating and whilst I had a vague knowledge of some of the areas covered, there was so much that I didn't know. I have read similar books in the past where I would need to further research a particular topic, but this book covers every avenue in great detail and in a way that it easy to understand.
The writers take us through the seasons where we see the most spectacular and breath taking images and read about life waking up and the sun, which once again rises after six months of total darkness. Whilst I was aware of the six months of darkness it is rather difficult concept to grasp especially when on 14 February the sun will being to rise and on 19 April it will deliver permanent daylight for the following six months.
There are two pages covering the natural phenomenon named aurora borealis or the Northern Lights, which is somewhere I would love to visit one day. We are advised how the aurora is formed and there is a double page image displaying green swirls of lights. However, this is the only section of the book that I found a little disappointing as I would loved to have seen a more spectacular photograph and read more text and the writers seem to have brushed over this section a little too quickly for my liking. I found the section on "Oases in the ice" somewhat difficult to comprehend where we are shown the most stunning photography and advised that in the winter the Arctic Ocean is covered by approximately 5.8 million square miles of ice, which is rather a lot of ice!
I have to admit that I had always considered the polar bear to be somewhat clumsy, particularly due to its weight. However, after watching the BBC series I learned that he is very sprightly as well as being gentle and the book has captured some spectacular images of him stalking his prey and gliding into the sea to make his attack. We are taken through the fantastic journey of the polar bear birthing den where the mother prepares a hole within the snow and waits for the snow to drift across her body. She will then dig a tunnel and give birth and we see the most spectacular close up images of her two day old cubs suckling on her milk.
I was saddened to learn that the average polar bear has reduced in weight by 15% due to their hunting seasons being shortened by three weeks as a result of the early melting of the ice. Reading this book made me sit up and realise that our every changing planet is having such a drastic effect on nature. It would be impossible for me to discuss each and every aspect of this outstanding book where we are taken through the lives of so many wildlife, such as penguins, whales, birds and wolves and we learn about how their hunt for survival.
The final section of the book focuses on the making of the Frozen Planet series where we meet the producer, Alastair Fothergill who co-wrote the book and we read about the remainder of the crew. We learn of the difficulties that the team encountered with the extreme weather conditions during their four year timescale to complete the series. We read about the Vanessa Berlowitz who is the other co-writer as well being as the series producer who piloted a helicopter during the expedition. This is an absolutely outstanding book and one that both my husband and I will dip into time and time again. It is perfect for educational reasons or to simply further your knowledge of the polar regions.
ISBN - 978-1-84-607962-7
Published by the BBC
The RRP is £25, but at the time of writing you can purchase this book from Amazon for £12.50 inclusive of postage and packing.
I hope you found my review useful and thanks for reading.
This review also appears on Ciao under the same user name.