Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World by Jennifer Armstrong
Aaanyway. This is an amazing, unforgettable story. Polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton and his crew set out in the Endurance, hoping to use dog-sled teams to be the first to cross Antarctica over land. They left in 1914 -- before reliable radio (or any other long-distance communication) was available to them. Tragically, the ice was so thick that summer in the antarctic that they couldn't even make it to land. Not only were they trapped in ice for an incredibly long time, but then they had to abandon ship, and, like, do tons of other amazing and scary stuff that is too amazing and scary to be described in simple terms here. But here's the kicker (and I can tell you this because it's on page 1 of the book): they all survived. It's nuts!
I was hooked on this book from about page 10. Once the voyage was underway, I was invested. It was definitely one of those nail-biting, "I have to finish this ASAP!" books, and I accidentally told Jacob all about it while we were driving him to work.
Not only is the writing great, but there are pictures. Like, actual, from-the-voyage pictures. A photographer accompanied the explorers, and he was a good photographer. The photos are black and white, of course, and just breathtaking. It hurts my heart a little bit right now to remember the part where the photographer had to go in and choose which photos he was going to keep and which he would smash to pieces. Packing light had become paramount, and he didn't trust himself to leave the plates behind if they were intact.
I definitely recommend this one to fans of survival stories -- but not just those. It's also really good writing and a really engrossing story. When I tried to read it aloud to the boys (ages 5 and 3) it couldn't hold their interest. (I'm putting that down to high vocabulary level and complex sentence structures.) But, when I was done explaining the book to Jacob in the car, Benjamin said, "I guess that book does sound good." I don't even know what younger-age limit to put on this book. 8? 10? Whatever. Adults can enjoy it easily and not feel like the story has been watered down at all.
I'm glad I own this one -- I had a feeling I should move it across the country with me! It's nice to have it in what I call "the permanent collection." Have you read it? Does it sound good to you?
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|Bonus baby penguins!|