Monday, August 15, 2011

Nonfiction Monday & Mix N' Match Monday: Antarctica

For this upcoming school year, I am using this year's summer reading theme, "One World, Many Stories." As part of that I am paying particular attention to books that take place around the world.  Today I am sharing some books that highlight the continent of Antarctica, a place few of us will ever see in person. After reading these books, I am more than willing to let others visit the place, while I stay at home wrapped up in a cozy blanket and read about it.

Shackleton's Stowaway
by Victoria McKernan
Laurel Leaf Books, 2005
Grades 5 and up
Reviewed from purchased copy.

On October 26, 1914, Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance set sail from Buenos Aires in pursuit of the last unclaimed prize in exploration: the crossing of the Antarctic continent. The crew stood on deck to watch the city fade away. All but one.
Eighteen-year-old Perce Blackborow hid below in a locker. But the thrill of stowing away with the legendary explorer would soon turn to fear. Within months, the Endurance, trapped and crushed by ice, sank. And even Perce, the youngest member of the stranded crew, knew there was no hope of rescue. If the men were to survive in the most hostile place on earth, they would have to do it on their own.(
This book is a fictionalized version of Shackleton's and his crew's year and a half ordeal near Antarctica (they never actually landed on the continent itself).  The author does a great job giving the reader a feel for what it may have been like to be there.  At the end of the book she explains why she presented things the way she did.  A great survival story that shows that no matter how powerful we humans think we are, mother nature is more powerful.

These next two books are both nonfiction accounts of the survival of Shackleton and his crew.  It was interesting to read them and compare their strengths and weaknesses.

Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World: The Extraordinary True Story of Shackleton and the Endurance
by Jennifer Armstrong
Crown Publishers, Inc. 1998
Grades 6 and up
Reviewed from purchased copy.

Armstrong does a superb job of telling this true story.  A survival story that rivals any ever made up. The author clearly did her homework, as the bibliography clearly shows.  I appreciate that she used as many primary sources as she could get her hands on.  I might have wished for more photographs, but the ones that are included make the story that much more real.  The photos taken of the destruction of the ship are especially powerful.  This version is more appropriate for older students, simply because of the amount of detail.

Ice Story: Shackleton's Lost Expedition
by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel
Clarion Books, 1999.
Grades 3-6
Reviewed from purchased copy.

The strengths of this book are the readability of the text and the numerous photographs.  The photographs really help the reader appreciate the pickle that Shackleton and his crew found themselves in.  This is the book that I plan to share with my fifth graders, simply because it's so readable.  I did notice that some of the things the author includes don't quite line up with other accounts.  However most of these things are minor and the inconsistencies are to be expected based on the sources used.  Plus, no group of people, even those who experience the same thing, are going to see or experience it in exactly the same way. Recommended.

Note: For another great book about Antarctica (science-based) see here.

Nonfiction Monday is a great way to find out about nonfiction books for kids.  Head on over to Amy O'Quinn for today's round-up.


  1. I love the 'theme' you have chosen to use for this year! In our home, we love historical adventures, so these titles sound awesome. Thanks for the suggestions and for participating in this week's Nonfiction Monday round-up. As a first-time host, I've enjoyed the experience, meeting the participants, and learning about great new resources!

  2. Thanks for this recommendation. I'm familiar with Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World. A fictionalized account will be interesting.
    Apples with Many Seeds.


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