At first the facts sound like an alternative history concept, but the basics are true: in May 1928, an Italian airship on its way back from exploring the North Pole (where the crew had dropped an Italian flag and a cross blessed by the pope) crashed before lifting off again with part of its crew. The ship disappeared forever, leaving nine crewmen stranded on the ice. Weeks later, after a massive international search followed intently by world newspapers, eight of the men were rescued by a Russian icebreaker. Towles cleanly illustrated tale adds impact to these events first by inventing a gin-soaked New York reporter (was there any other kind?) with a need to prove himself and sticking him on the icebreaker heading north. More intriguing, though, is Towles imagining of what the airships crew goes through on the ice, arguing over whether to search for land (drifting ever further away) or stay still and wait for rescue, though the ice appears to be cracking. Somewhat too brief but vividly imagined, this is high-quality graphic historical fiction, bringing an obscure but colorful page of history to dramatic life. Suitable for young teens. ""(Dec.)"" .