This middle grade, action-packed trilogy had the perfect mixture of friendship and fantasy. I would like to immediately move to a place with miniature dinosaurs, fairies, and gentlemen flamingos.
Note: Since this is a review of the trilogy I am going to share my views very generally to avoid spoilers. Also, I am actively trying not to gush to the point that no one will want to read this book.
The Polar Bear Explorers Club (Book One)
by Alex Bell and Illustrated by Tomislav Tomic
Join Stella Starflake Pearl and her three fellow explorers as they trek across the snowy Icelands and come face-to-face with frost fairies, snow queens, outlaw hideouts, unicorns, pygmy dinosaurs and carnivorous cabbages . . .
When Stella and three other junior explorers get separated from their expedition can they cross the frozen wilderness and live to tell the tale? from Goodreads.
The Forbidden Expedition (Book Two)
by Alex Bell, Illustrated by Tomislav Tomic
also called: Explorers on Witch Mountain
Stella and the gang travel to Witch Mountain to save Felix and what they find along the way could change the course of their adventures forever in this second novel in the whimsical Polar Bear Explorers’ Club series.
Stella Starflake Pearl has been eagerly awaiting her next adventure, ever since she and Felix returned from the Snowy Icelands. She fears, however, that she might never be sent on another expedition, especially since the president of the Polar Bear Explorers’ Club himself is afraid of her ice princess powers. But when disaster strikes and Felix is snatched by a fearsome witch, Stella and the rest of the junior explorers—including a reluctant new ally from the Jungle Cat Explorers’ Club—must set off into the unknown on a forbidden journey to the top of Witch Mountain.
What awaits them there is a mystery. The only thing they know is this: No one ever returns from Witch Mountain.
In the second installment of Alex Bell’s magical The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club series, Stella and the gang face villainous vultures, terrifying witch wolves, flying sharks, and eerie picnicking teddy bears on their daring quest to save one of their own. from Goodreads.
Explorers on Black Ice Bridge (Book Three)
by Alex Bell, Illustrated by Tomislav Tomic
In the third magical Stella Starflake adventure the explorers meet gargoyles, sea-gremlins, mermaids, red devil squids – even a Gentleman Flamingo!
Ice princess Stella Starflake and her father Felix are in trouble: President Fogg has expelled them from the Polar Bear Explorers’ Club, and banned them from going on any further expeditions.
Stella’s not going to be put off by rules and regulations though. She knows her friend Shay is in danger of turning into a witch wolf himself, since receiving a deadly bite on their last adventure. It’s vital that Stella and her friends set out to find the spellbook that could save his life, even if it means travelling over the cursed Black Ice Bridge.
It’s a formidable and dangerous task, and their journey takes them on a breathtaking, page-turning adventure! from Goodreads.
I’ll admit it: I didn’t want to read this book. I certainly hadn’t planned to tear through the series. I remember cracking it open with the same begrudging attitude often perfected by middle graders. I sighed, I complained, I actually think I rolled my eyes. But, I followed my three chapter / 100 page rule and carried on with the story. By page 20, I was hooked. After all, Stella’s Dad, Felix, is a fairyologist. He found pgymy dinosaurs on an exploration and brought them back to live at his home with Stella. My imagination was immediately captured by a house filled with tiny dinosaurs, fairies and pet Polar Bears.
“…there comes a time when a girl gets tired of hearing about other people’s adventures and wants to start having a few of her own.”
Still, even the most magical home can be a cage. After all, Stella Starflake Pearl has three names. She should be an adventurer, an explorer! She has dreamed of joining The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club for as long as she can remember. But girls aren’t allowed to be explorers. That is, until Felix steps in and Stella is allowed as the first female explorer.
Throughout all three books Stella makes new friends, shows kindness to strangers, and learns how to trust in others. They are careful with new species they encounter. They have to learn to work together. That’s not to say that the junior explorers are perfect. They argue with each other, they steal things, they make mistakes. But, in the end they grow from their mis-steps. I wish I could always say the same…
There are a plethora of fabulous animals, both magical and real, and characters along for Stella’s adventures. I could imagine myself arguing for lengthy periods of time about which characters were my favorite and why. Eventually though, I think that designation goes to Felix.
My reasoning is fairly simple. He loves Stella for who she is and encourages her to grow into the person she wants to become. It is statements like this one that made me love Felix.
“My darling thing, if we spent too much time worrying about what narrow-minded people think then we’d really never get anywhere at all…You mustn’t ever let anyone stop you from feeling like you can be yourself, you know.”
And, when Stella begins to believe that she is a bad person because she made a mistake he reassured her that,
“We all have dark sides to ourselves that we must learn to fight again.”
After all, while Stella may be the first female explorer, she couldn’t have gotten there without Felix opening the door. And I love Felix because I want to be like him. I want to hold the door open for anyone I can.
This trilogy warmed my heart in a way a series hasn’t for quite some time and I cannot imagine forgetting these characters and their adventures any time soon. In fact, I can hardly wait to curl up with a cup of hot chocolate and revisit my favorite parts.
Tell me, please!
Have you read this trilogy?