cover image Spirit of Endurance: The True Story of the Shackleton Expedition to the Antarctic

Spirit of Endurance: The True Story of the Shackleton Expedition to the Antarctic

Jennifer Armstrong. Crown Publishers, $17.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-517-80091-1

This distillation of Armstrong's Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World into picture book format masterfully foreshortens the key events of Ernest Shackleton's ill-fated expedition aboard the Endurance to Antarctica. Trapped in pack ice in January 1915, Shackleton and his crew survived for nearly a year in the frozen polar wasteland, then traveled 100 miles by open lifeboat to an uninhabited islet. Shackleton and a handpicked team sailed a further 800 miles ""across the stormiest ocean in the world, facing 100-foot waves, bitter temperatures, and hurricane-force winds,"" then trekked across the uncharted mountains and glaciers of South Georgia Island to a whaling station. After several attempts, Shackleton took a Chilean steamer back to the islet and saved every member of his crew. Although the opening is a bit abrupt, Armstrong's account of these astonishing feats of fortitude ripples with drama. Only those who have read her longer version of the events will miss the copious quotes that capture the voices of the men and the colorful anecdotes (e.g., Hussey's banjo serenades) she brings so vividly to life in Shipwreck. The book's oversize format hints at the scope of Shackleton's larger-than-life adventure and provides a generous frame for an ample supply of maps, original photographs (including the famous shot of the ice-bound Endurance, her hull and rigging covered with a ghostly white frost) and Maughan's panoramic, wide-view paintings. The paintings cannot rival the intrinsic fascination of the photographs, but they are atmospheric and imposingly scaled. Their imaginations stirred, many readers will want to tackle her earlier volume for more of the story. Ages 8-10. (Sept.)