Shackleton's Stowaway

Victoria McKernan, Author Alfred A. Knopf $17.99 (317p) ISBN 978-0-375-92691-4
This gripping historical novel about Shackleton's expedition to Antarctica offers the lure of adventure and also probes the harsh realities of his crew's survival. McKernan (Point Deception , for adults) draws on extensive research for her third-person narrative; Perce Blackborow, the 18-year-old protagonist is an actual Welsh seaman who stowed away on Shackleton's ship, Endurance . The initial chapters deftly capture the ebb and flow of life at sea, including the men's friendships, conflicting personalities and their seemingly endless duties. Over the course of the ensuing months, pressure ice threatens and then wrecks the ship, and the text chronicles the superhuman feats of the crew. The author also portrays the boredom, raw nerves and the courage involved in their battle against the sea and ice (when Shackleton and a small crew set off in a ""tiny boat... on an impossible mission,"" Perce and the others must huddle for months under overturned lifeboats on a rock island). ""The sea is an enemy without malice. The waves don't care what they smash about.... Human enemies will tire, but the sea is inexhaustible,"" reads the narrative. Diary entries scattered throughout add little to the proceedings, but McKernan capably portrays the contradictory aspects of the heroic Shackleton's personality. For example, he is in command on the ice and confident in front of potential investors, but tongue-tied while speaking to Perce once they return to civilization. These compelling characters will command respect and likely inspire readers to learn more about this extraordinary expedition. Ages 12-up. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/31/2005
Release date: 02/01/2005
Genre: Children's
Prebound-Sewn - 312 pages - 978-0-7569-7017-8
Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-0-307-54566-4
Hardcover - 317 pages - 978-0-375-82691-7
Mass Market Paperbound - 314 pages - 978-0-440-41984-6
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