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The Explorers' Club #1

The Polar Bear Explorers' Club

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It sounded like a respectable and worthy enough death for an explorer - tumbling from an ice bridge to be impaled upon a mammoth tusk - but Stella really, really didn't want that to happen, just the same.

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?

346 pages, Paperback

First published November 2, 2017

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About the author

Alex Bell

38 books499 followers
Alex Bell was born in 1986. She always wanted to be a writer but had several different back-up plans to ensure she didn’t end up in the poor house first. For some years these ranged from dolphin trainer to animal shelter vet but then, at fifteen, she had an epiphany involving John and Robert Kennedy and decided to become a lawyer instead.

To that end she eagerly started a Law Degree only to find it so boring that she was at a very real risk of going completely insane. To mitigate this she started writing again. The second book got her an agent with Carolyn Whitaker of London Independent Books but, unfortunately, not a publisher. The third book, written during her first summer holidays off from university, found a home with Gollancz. The Ninth Circle came out in April 2008 with possibly the most beautiful cover ever created (matched only by her second book, Jasmyn).

Not one to learn from past experience, Alex started the Legal Practice Course in London. There she met some great people and had a lot of fun messing about during lessons that were clearly meant to be extremely solemn affairs. Thankfully, she dropped out just before the point where all students must submit to the personality-removing process that is a compulsory part of being an esteemed member of the legal profession.

Now she happily dwells in an entirely make-believe world of blood, death, madness, murder and mayhem. The doctors have advised that it is best not to disturb her, for she appears to be happy there.

The only other thing to add is that Alex Bell is an immensely – immensely – talented young writer, blah, blah, blah. The books are great, blah, blah. Everyone should totally go out and buy them and stuff.

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5 stars
1,012 (38%)
4 stars
1,141 (43%)
3 stars
390 (14%)
2 stars
80 (3%)
1 star
12 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 466 reviews
Profile Image for Gavin Hetherington.
673 reviews5,448 followers
February 6, 2020

This was a perfect polar adventure that had characters I instantly fell in love with and a story I didn't want to end! I also laughed my butt off on multiple occasions and I cannot wait to see what these explorers get up to next.

Fantastic, just absolutely fantastic!
Profile Image for Jade Ratley.
176 reviews2,893 followers
October 23, 2019
This was such a great children’s book! If you’ve got kids, then I highly recommend this. If you’re into cute children’s stories then I highly recommend this.
Obviously my rating is taking into consideration that this is a children’s book, I’m knocking a star for predictability, however there was a plot twist I wasn’t expecting! The writing was simplistic, however I liked the introduction of more sophisticated words at times, and the illustrations really added something special.
This was an adorable story, full of morals children must learn, and I do think it’s a must read for them. Friendship, adventure, family and savage cabbages, what’s not to love?!
Profile Image for Raquel Estebaran.
282 reviews162 followers
February 14, 2022
Novela fantástica infantil/juvenil repleta de criaturas mágicas y aventuras, que además de una trama imaginativa y absorbente tiene personajes adorables y mucho sentido del humor.

Una edición preciosa que añade algunas ilustraciones.

Totalmente recomendable para jóvenes lectores, aunque siendo adulto también es altamente disfrutable.

Profile Image for Sara.
1,056 reviews352 followers
February 4, 2021
Stella Snowflake Pearl wants to be an explorer, just like her adopted father Felix. But girls aren't allowed into the Polar Bear Explorers Club, and Stella feels she has a lot to prove when Felix decides to bring her on his next adventure. However, Stella never expected to be thrown into an icy world full of snow pirates, savage fairies and carnivorous cabbages...

This was highly imaginative, and a whole lot of fun. It gives off a definite air of the golden era of adventurous explorations, moustaches and all, mixed with the whimsy of childlike enthusiasm and magic. The world building, although not expansive, feels just right for the target audience. We get glimpses of unicorns, miniature dinosaurs and flesh eating plants all wrapped up in a perilous landscape that I was completely enthralled by and somehow it all made sense. I think it helps that the plot is very fast paced. The group never spend too long in one location, meaning their isn't really time for in-depth backstories and lore about different things. The reader is just made to accept it and move on to the next adventure before they have time to think too much about how absurd an idea it is.

Stella is such an upbeat protagonist, who loves the thrill of the chase and the feel of icy wind in her hair. She was found in this environment as a baby, and while on her adventure she uncovers a lot more about her past, as well as developing new relationships along the way. I liked all of her interactions with her fellow crew members, especially Beanie, who is so incredibly kind and loving but is often cast over by other people. Stella regularly speaks up for him, calling out anyone who speaks negatively about Beanie's behaviours and supposed eccentricities. She knows how wonderful Beanie is, and she just wants everyone else to see it too.

Fast paced, high octane fun that screams classic adventure story. Can't wait to read the next one.
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
2,010 reviews1,406 followers
December 28, 2018
I need to read middle grade more often! This provided the most charming story-line, delivered a fun Arctic adventure, is full of feminist ideals, and has created some of the most unique and lovable characters. You don't need to be of the intended age range to enjoy this, as every reader has much to gain from this adorable, inclusive, and individual story.
Profile Image for Rowan.
243 reviews445 followers
February 12, 2022
Solid straight 4*, I think the world and concept is stronger than the actual plot/writing but it is very whimsical I think. Excited to read more in this world :)
Profile Image for Chrissey.
30 reviews1 follower
December 13, 2017
I was excited to read this book. What do you want in the run up to Christmas other than a good, snowy adventure story? But this was such a disappointment. Alex Bell uses a very tired formula of ‘girls can’t do x, so my character will!’, which may have worked 15 years ago, but most certainly will not now. It is still a good adventure story when it gets down to it, but I couldn’t get past this lazy trope. Having some bad-ass female explorers would’ve made a much better plot, it just felt like Bell was putting it in there because she could.
Bell also seems to be including everything that she thinks is popular right now, first a set of explorers clubs, then fairies, then miniature penguins- which all fit in with the plot - but the Pygmy dinosaurs really did not seem to make any sense, and made the opening chapter feel very heavy and full.
This book just feels very formulaic and full of worn our tropes - not a fan!
Profile Image for Myra.
260 reviews176 followers
March 16, 2021
This was super cute!
I really liked the main character, as well as the other core characters. I literally fell in love with them from page one, I love them so much! This was also so atmospheric! The snowy setting is just everything I wanted and it was just exactly what I wanted it to be.
I'm taking a star off because I had some slight issues with the pacing. I felt like it started very very slow, and while it did pick up, the slower pace in the beginning definitely impacted how much I enjoyed it. Not a lot, but a little.
I really enjoyed this overall, will definitely pick up the sequel!
Profile Image for Léa.
135 reviews28 followers
February 5, 2023
A un cheveu du coup de cœur! Cette lecture a été fantastique; j'ai absolument tout aimé et particulièrement l'univers foisonnant et loufoque imaginé par l'autrice.
L'histoire est passionnante, pleine de magie et sans temps mort.
Les personnages sont bien construits, tous différents et assez attachants.
J'ai hâte de lire le tome 2 et de découvrir la suite des aventures de cette petite bande.
Je conseillerais à coup sûr cette saga!
March 2, 2021
This was an amazing, freezing adventure of a good time! I’m so happy I’m finally reading these! Stella lives w/Felix. He is the only parent she’s ever known. He found her in the snow when she was a couple years old, & has raised her as his own. He is also a member of the Polar Bear Explorers Club. You can join as a junior member when you turn 12. Stella just turned 12 & Felix is about to leave on an expedition. Only girls aren’t allowed, & Stella thinks this is ridiculous. She ends up getting to go though this time, & when the explorers get to their destination & set off-Stella & 3 other junior explorers get separated from the rest. They have to set off on the expedition by themselves, & make it back to the meeting point or get left behind. W/her are Beanie, her long time friend, who is 1/2 elf w/healing magic. Then Shay, who is a wolf whisperer..I have never wished more for anything in my life to be real than this! Lol wolves are my favorite, & I would get to talk to my babygirl. Lol Lastly, there’s Ethan who is a magician, & also a member of the Ocean Squid Explorers Club. They face many dangers, oddities, & some unknown things are discovered. This was so atmospheric! Everything was described so vividly from their surroundings, to the temperature..everything. I fell in love w/all these characters, even Ethan lol Beanie has a piece of my heart, but Shay is who I bonded most w/of course. Felix is quite amazing too, & is raising Stella to be a kind, & awesome woman. A big focus on always being kind, not judging, & remembering others may be fighting battles we know nothing about-so always be kind. Also, family is who is there for you, loves you, & you can always depend on above all else. Highly recommend this. Can’t wait to start book 2. Stunning cover by Tomislav Tomic, w/just as beautiful illustrations sprinkled throughout the book too.💜
Profile Image for Eri (marsbookscats).
384 reviews83 followers
March 12, 2019
Stella es una huérfana y su padre adoptivo, Felix, es un miembro de El club de exploradores del oso polar. Ella quiere ir en la próxima expedición al País del hielo pero no se permiten chicas en el club. Luego de que Felix convence a su superior, ambos se embarcan en una expedición junto con 3 chicos de la edad de Stella pero no todo sale como lo planeado, en el viaje descubrirán muchas cosas y enfrentarán varios peligros.

Al comienzo de la novela vemos que Stella es una chica acostumbrada a una vida cómoda, vive en una mansión con su padre adoptivo, con su oso polar mascota (también un huérfano) y con dinosaurios en miniatura (dato curioso). Sin embargo, esto no hace que sea una chica malcriada, todo lo contrario, es fuerte y decidida, le encantan las aventuras y su mayor sueño es ir en alguna expedición con su padre.
Lo primero que me llamó la atención cuando estaba leyéndola es que Felix encontró a Stella en el País del hielo cuando ella tenía solo dos años y nadie sabe qué hacía allí. Lo otro es que podría considerarlo un libro feminista ya que Stella no se deja ningunear por su género sino que lucha para hacer valer sus derechos como chica y lo consigue. Además, de vez en cuando, su tía la venía a visitar y le decía que tenía que aprender cosas de chica y comportarse como tal, a lo cual Felix le decía que no, que esas cosas eran aburridas y que Stella no tenía porqué hacerlas.

Otras de las mejores cosas del libro es el valor de la amistad, Stella defiende a su amigo Habichuela, un chico mitad elfo que tiene poderes sanadores y es autista. Luego conoce a Shay, un susurrador de lobos, y a Ethan que es un mago y miembro de El club de exploradores del Calamar oceánico (sí, hay cuatro clubs de exploradores distintos). Los 4 aprenderán que juntos pueden enfrentar cualquier peligro. Esta amistad fue mi cosa favorita del libro. No hay muchos libros que se enfoquen principalmente en la amistad como tema principal y este hace un excelente trabajo desarrollándola.

Me gustaron mucho las peculiaridades y descripciones del Club, nunca había leído un libro con algo así y lo disfruté mucho. También llegamos a conocer a distintas criaturas fascinantes y raras, como una oca que pone huevos mágicos. La creatividad de la autora me pareció un factor único y sorprendente.

El club de exploradores del oso polar es un libro middle grade de aventuras, con una protagonista fuerte y varios personajes cautivadores, con una trama muy original y con un toque de humor, perfecta para cualquier lector que disfrute una historia de aventuras.
Profile Image for Alice-Elizabeth (Prolific Reader Alice).
1,147 reviews154 followers
January 12, 2021
I’ve owned this MG novel for a few years and by chance, it started snowing where I live in England. And since the story is set in the Icelands with plenty of snow and bitterly cold winds, it was the perfect atmospheric read! Stella’s dad is an explorer and she dreams of joining him on an adventure. Unfortunately there are two obstacles in her way. The first is that she is being shipped off to a posh finishing school. The second is that the special Polar Bear Explorers Club isn’t open to girls. In a twist of events, she ends up in the Icelands with an array of new friends but also new enemies waiting at every turn for them. Lots of fun with a bit of everything included: Magic, secrets, danger. I look forward to carrying on with the remainder of the series.

T/W- Frostbite/Amputation

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Profile Image for Racheli Zusiman.
1,411 reviews47 followers
January 31, 2020
ספר נהדר ממש. אני מעריכה שהוא מתאים לגילאי 10-15 (הבנים שלי קראו אותו) אבל גם אני ממש נהניתי ממנו, מחכה לקרוא את ההמשכים, ואף מקווה שיעשו ממנו סרט.
הספר מתאר עולם פנטזיה מקסים המתרחש (כנראה) באנגליה, ובו בנוסף למה שמוכר לנו, יש גם יצורי קסם שונים, מפלצות, וגם שיחי מרשמלו ועצי כעכים. סטלה בת ה12 יוצאת עם אביה המאמץ לארצות הקור במשלחת של חוקרי ארצות - בניגוד לחוקי המועדון שאוסרים השתתפות של נשים במשלחות כאלו - ונקלעת להרפתקאות שונות עם עוד 3 ילדים בגילה, ומגלה פרטים על עברה. בספר שזורים משפטי השראה מקסימים עם מסרים מאוד חשובים על שונות, מוטיבציה, ראיית האחר ועוד. ביני, אחד הילדים, הוא ללא ספק ילד על הספקטרום, וזה מקסים לראות כיצד מוצגים המאפיינים שלו וגם את היחס המכיל של סטלה ושיין כלפיו (לעומת ילדים אחרים בבית הספר שלו, לדוגמה).
ממליצה מאוד מאוד.
Profile Image for Nadja.
1,531 reviews59 followers
February 7, 2021
Ahh I loved this (audio)book. Dan Bottomley was such a great narrator. I loved the humour and all the characters, especially Stella and Ethan. This book is full of friendship, adventures and magical creatures.

Polarthon 2021: A journey & Polar Fantasy.
Profile Image for Clarabel.
3,172 reviews21 followers
January 14, 2020
Quelle fabuleuse lecture !
Stella Floccus Pearl vient enfin d'obtenir le droit d'accompagner son père Félix dans son expédition. Pour la fillette de douze ans, l'occasion est trop belle pour vivre en vrai ses rêves les plus fous. Mais pour cela, il a fallu négocier son titre de Membre Junior et (hélas) Temporaire auprès du Cercle de l'Ours Polaire. Stella et Félix doivent maintenant prouver que sa place est amplement méritée.
Et pourtant... « une règle bien connue veut que les expéditions audacieuses dans des contrées sauvages ne se déroulent pas toujours comme prévu » : les traîneaux sont à peine lancés sur les pistes enneigées et déjà les loups partent en vrille. Les quatre enfants à bord sont brutalement livrés à eux-mêmes, débutent aussi de folles et palpitantes aventures...
En route vers l'inconnu, semé d'embûches, auprès de compagnons très dissemblables : Stella doit composer avec son cousin Dragigus, timide et maladroit, Shay, un valeureux chuchoteur de loups, et Ethan, un irascible magicien qui appartient au club concurrent du Calmar Géant. Forcément leurs différences serviront d'armes pour affronter les obstacles et enrichir leur équipe de bras cassés.
En attendant, c'est un savoureux mélange de complicité, d'humour, de magie, de mystères et de rebondissements. Pour Stella, le voyage la conduira jusqu'aux secrets de ses origines (la fillette avait été abandonnée dans la neige et recueillie par Félix vers l'âge de trois ans).
C'est aussi une histoire pleine de clins d'œil pour La Reine des neiges ou Les Royaumes du Nord : paysages du bout du monde, ambiance glaciale, créatures fantastiques, folklores et légendes... Cette lecture inspire une envie de voyage et d'évasion - c'est tout cuit ! La suite est déjà disponible avec Le Mont des sorcières.
Profile Image for Pip Watson.
156 reviews27 followers
December 5, 2020
I really enjoyed this one, this was a really great and quick read! First read for mini polarthon!
Profile Image for Sarah.
155 reviews10 followers
November 11, 2017
Stella was found as a baby in the Icelands, a territory that is almost wholly unexplored. Now her adoptive father, Felix, a polar explorer, is returning to further explore the Icelands and Stella has been granted permission to accompany him - a high honour for a girl. Will she finally find answers to her true identity?
It took me a little while to get into this story, but once the expedition began I really warmed to it. It is non-stop action and adventure and is simply teeming with imagination. The main section of the novel reminded me very much of the Indiana Jones films, with lots of fantasy creatures popping up unexpectedly, collapsing bridges, subterranean caves and tunnels and a myriad mythological beasts and creatures.
The characters are developed beautifully and it is a lovely study of relationship development between the four main protagonists.
Another plus are the illustrations. The black and white sketches resemble those that may well have been drawn by 19th century explorers. I found that there were just the right amount - enough to aid a young imagination but not too many that they deprived the imagination of the fun of visualising it’s own story images.
A really good story and one that will hopefully have a sequel.
Profile Image for Sam (she_who_reads_).
620 reviews15 followers
January 17, 2019
The most enjoyable reading experience I’ve had in a long time!! This was possibly the cutest book I’ve ever read- full of amazing characters, magical creatures, and exciting adventures! I’ve fallen absolutely in love with this world- I need more more more!! There’s humour, danger, mystery, and some truely heartwarming moments. There’s wonderful character growth, the writing style is beautiful, and the world Alex Bell has created is so unique and full of wonder- I cannot wait to discover more of it!
Profile Image for Ophelia &#x1f49b;.
395 reviews1 follower
January 31, 2021
I finished my first book this year! Whouhou! Even though I'm having a terrible cold since new years eve....
Anyway, back to topic. I thoroughly enjoyed this read! It was really cute and it started of so strong! A magically crafted world full of wonders and pets I wished I could own! My only complain is, the adventure could have been a little more cleverly plotted.
3,5 stars
Profile Image for BookishStitcher.
1,078 reviews44 followers
November 27, 2022
This was a very cute middle grade book about an unlikely group of friends having an amazing adventure to the coldest parts of the world. I really felt like the characters were so well thought out for a middle grade. I enjoyed it a lot and will be continuing on with the series.
Profile Image for Bladelor.
1,080 reviews19 followers
February 8, 2021
Un très chouette premier tome qui donne envie de poursuivre la série.
Profile Image for Anne-Marie.
379 reviews18 followers
January 8, 2020
What a fun world this was! I now desperately want my own Polar Pets igloo, a pygmy dinosaur, and I definitely need a spotted goose. Loved it!
Profile Image for Fenja.
47 reviews12 followers
January 9, 2019
I HAVE SO MUCH LOVE FOR THIS BOOK! From the little messages about life and friendship and family that were weaved into the story to the kids and the PARENTS (Felix is Dad of the year oh my god) and the Plot and - I just loved everything about it.

It was funny and entertaining and adventurous and just so much fun! It had an awesome Plot Twist. It was very imaginative with polar bears and unicorns and tiny dinosaurs. It was basically everything I want from a good Middle Grade Fantasy. I would recommend it to everyone who loves friendship and a good adventure!

5 Stars! Obviously. Can't wait to read the Second book!
Profile Image for Michelle.
1,250 reviews187 followers
November 13, 2017
When you’ve worked with a publicist for a while, and they ask you to be part of a new book release which ends up being a worldwide hit, you don’t turn the offer down, so when you’re asked again for a surprise middle grade book you don't hesitate in saying yes.

Stella Starflake Pearl is adopted, she lives with her Dad Felix, and their multitude of pygmy dinosaurs, unicorns, and a polar bear. Stella wants to be an explorer, a navigator to be exact, but the Polar Bear Explorer's Club forbids women from being explorers, but Felix puts his honour, and his role in the club on the line and Stella soon finds herself part of this club, along with her friend Beanie, and Shay, a mysterious wolf whisperer.

The Polar Bear Explorer's Club embark on a mission to find the coldest part of the Icelands, but this isn’t a solo mission and the Ocean Squid Explorers Club is accompanying them, and that’s how they meet Ethan, an arrogant, selfish boy who dislikes Stella, Beanie, and Shay. But unexpected circumstances involving hastily purchased wolves, a herd of woolly mammoths, and a broken ice bridge, finds this young group of explorers alone in the Icelands, trying to find a way to the coldest part in one piece.

The Polar Bear Explorer's Club was just the book I needed to read. As soon as I began reading I didn't stop, I love the relationship Stella and Felix have.  I love how Stella isn’t afraid to push the boundaries, and how Felix doesn’t hold her back but encourages her.

I love the magical aspect to it, who wouldn’t want a pet Unicorn, or a Pygmy Dragon, or a Polar Bear (minus the potential squashing), or even mini Penguins in a mini igloo. Even the meaner side of the magical creatures make an impact, Yetis and the Frosties.

The Polar Bear Explorer's Club is the perfect book for an adventure seeking child...or adult. I love how the plot was easy to follow, but kept you wanting to know more. As the story progresses some secrets and pasts are revealed (one I did guess) but seeing what comes from those revelations made up for the sad parts.

I am honestly struggling to write this review, because I have so many reasons for you to read this book, I'm worried that all my reasons will spoil a lot of what happens within the pages. I just know that as soon as I finished reading The Polar Bear Explorer's Club I needed to know there would be another in this series, and that I need it in my hands right now please. I'm really looking forward to getting a copy of this for my niece.

Final Verdict
Buy this book
Profile Image for Sarah (Bookish Bug).
143 reviews29 followers
January 7, 2019
A very fun, cute, and unique middle grade novel! Stella is a stubborn little girl who knows who she is and what she wants and she goes for it! I loved the characters and creatures in this story!!!
Profile Image for Coleccionista de finales tristes.
560 reviews33 followers
October 27, 2020
Stella vive con su padre llamado Félix, quien en realidad no es su padre biológico sino un explorador que la encontró en una expedición. Un día Félix decide llevar a Stella a una expedición donde ella descubre su origen. Este libro recuerda a Frozen
Displaying 1 - 30 of 466 reviews

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