Arctic Thaw
Boyds Mills Press, 2007
ISBN 978-1590784365
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  Arctic Thaw: The People of the Whale in a Changing Climate
written by Peter Lourie

For thousands of years, Iñupiaq Eskimos have hunted bowhead whales from the sea ice. Now this hunting platform is becoming thinner and more dangerous.

The Iñupiaq Eskimos live in a warming land—the North Slope of Alaska. As global climate change continues to heat up the Arctic, the Iñupiaq culture faces an uncertain future.

In Arctic Thaw, you will meet some of the scientists who study climate change, see Iñupiaq villagers come together to harvest a bowhead after a successful hunt, and enjoy Kivgiq, a festival that brings villages together to celebrate the Iñupiaq whaling tradition.

Peter presents the essential science of one of humanity's most exciting challenges—global climate change—and an intimate view of a culture that's facing it head-on.

Resources for Further Study

"Alaska's Not-So-Permanent Frost," Christian Science Monitor, 2003 (videos, photos, and research, funded by the NSF)

"How You Can Stop Global Warming," National Resources Defense Fund

Behind the Book

Awards and Recognition

Junior Library Guild selection
Kansas Reading Circle catalog, intermediate level
MOSAIC 2007 featured book, Lincoln, NE
Society of School Librarians International Honor Book, 2007


“Peter Lourie has made global warming understandable and, with his can-do approach, excitingly reversible. He inspires his young readers to realize they can think, invent, adjust, and conquer this worldwide problem. A must book—right now. Tomorrow is tool late.” (Jean Craighead George)

“A perfect book to help young people understand how the world is changing and why that matters, but in a way that won't overwhelm them.” (Bill McKibben)

“[A] timely photo-essay.” (Kirkus Reviews)

"A somewhat sobering, yet upbeat examination of the probable effects of global warming on the culture of the Iñupiaq whale hunters of Alaska’s North Slope. … Lively, straightforward text. … Numerous full-color photos and helpful maps and diagrams enrich the package. … This book should find space on library shelves along with [Lourie's} other titles. … An up-to-the-minute window into a fast-changing world—with hopeful overtones.” (School Library Journal)

“Experienced ecological writer Peter Lourie places the issue of global warming firmly on the ground (or permafrost, or ice) of Alaska's North Slope, with three visits to Barrow in September, February and April. He accompanies climate-change scientist Paul Shepson, who does not quarrel with the idea of global warming but is more interested in discussing how we confront the challenge. We watch scientists and the native Inupiat exchange information, share seasonal rituals and consider the future. The explanation of whaling makes clear that the native practices do not stress the bowhead whale population. Lourie's photographs are complemented by highly specific explanations of scientific and indigenous realities.” (Chicago Tribune)

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