By Victoria McKernan
Laurel Leaf Books
Paperback and ebook
This is by far, the BBOS- Best Book of the Summer!Before I tell you about it I need to clarify or modify something about my blog. As I look back on my posts I realize I need to amend my blog to book recommendations, not reviews.
I have one rule for my students when reading for pleasure- if you don’t love the book you are reading, put it down and move on. So, having said that, I don’t finish books I don’t like so there will only be postings about books I enjoyed and think YA readers will enjoy as well. Having followed that rule all summer, as of today, I’ve read 12 YA books and 25 adult novels – I have ditched 4 YA and 2 adult novels.
Now, back to Shackleton’s Stowaway. I also noticed that, I have been heavy on historical fiction this summer, which is not my usual reading pattern but I am building my blog to appeal to all types and interests. I read this book a few years ago- during daily silent reading during homeroom and remember enjoying it but it is not a book that should be read in 30 minute increments! After seeing the Google City Street of Shackleton’s hut in Antarctica, I wanted to reread it and Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing.
McKernan’s novel does brilliantly what I love most about historical fiction, the reader really feels for the characters and their dire circumstances in temperatures well below zero – living on moving ice…. She uses the Stowaway – and yes, there really was a Stowaway- Perce Blackborow, to tell the tale of Shackleton’s voyage. The book starts an entry in Perce’s journal that will make your toes curl. The book then flashes back to the beginning of the story. Readers will be amazed at what this group of men managed to survive- without an iPhone or a GPS or even a working radio!
The novel very accurately portrays life on the Endurance and the ice. The author interviewed family members of the crew and heavily researched the trip. The sled dogs and resident cat that lived on board the Endurance are sure to tug at readers’ heart strings as will the love and compassion given them by the crew.
This novel kept me up late and stayed with me even when I wasn’t reading it. Even in such a frightening situation, the night skies and the beauty of the landscape were not lost on the crew of the Endurance and the author captured it brilliantly.
Read this book, recommend it to your students, they will get a real feel for the idea of what “wilderness” really is.