Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World: The Extraordinary True Story of Shackeleton and the Endurance

Jennifer Armstrong, Author Crown Publishers $18 (120p) ISBN 978-0-517-80013-3
Endurance is the fitting name British explorer Ernest Shackleton gave to the ship that left England in 1914 with a crew of 27, transporting what he anticipated to be the first expedition to cross the entire continent of Antarctica. It is also a fitting characterization for the struggle of the men described in this tale, a true story of survival against incredible odds. The crew of the ship (which sank a year and three months into their journey) went on to spend an Antarctic winter camping on ice floes, battling sub-zero temperatures and frostbite, dehydration and diarrhea, insomnia, boredom and--perhaps most dangerous of all--despair. Even while describing the months of inactivity, as the explorers drift along on ice floes, waiting to reach open water, Armstrong (The Dreams of Mairhe Mehan) keeps her narrative moving at a brisk pace. A generous supply of colorful anecdotes (e.g., Hussey, the meteorologist, ""serenades the passing wildlife with his banjo"") and excerpts from journals (one crewman described the ice-locked Endurance as being stuck ""like an almond in the middle of a chocolate bar"") shed light on the men's personalities and reveal Shackleton's remarkable skill for keeping his crew agreeable and hopeful, despite life-threatening conditions. Other passages--as when a floe on which the crew is camping suddenly cracks in two and one mate, still asleep, falls into the icy water--possess heart-pounding immediacy. Armstrong's absorbing storytelling, illustrated with dramatic black-and-white photographs, make this an enthralling adventure. Ages 10-13. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/02/1998
Release date: 11/01/1998
Genre: Children's
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-883332-39-6
Compact Disc - 978-1-883332-54-9
Library Binding - 134 pages - 978-0-517-80014-0
Prebound-Glued - 144 pages - 978-0-613-30126-8
Downloadable Audio - 1 pages - 978-1-935430-61-2
Paperback - 144 pages - 978-0-375-81049-7
Prebound-Sewn - 978-0-606-19767-0
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