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Shackleton's Stowaway

by Victoria McKernan

Published by Alfred A. Knopf, 2005
317 pages
ISBN: 0-375-82691-2

Ages 11-15

Ernest Shackleton's 1914 voyage on his ship, Endurance, ranks among the most compelling exploration stories of the last century. In an attempt to cross the Antarctic continent, the Endurance became trapped and crushed by the polar ice. Caught in unbearably harsh circumstances, Shackleton and his crew struggled to survive for months with little food and shelter. Author Victoria McKernan layers her novel onto this real- life adventure, told from the perspective of Perce, an 18-year-old stowaway with a lust for adventure. Courage, ingenuity and conscientious leadership mingle with fear, boredom and personal ambition in this imagined account of what the sailors and their leader endured. From unrelenting meals of penguin to a grizzly amputation of frostbitten toes, vivid details bring history to life. For readers new to the tale of the Endurance, McKernan's novel is an exceptional introduction to those events. Those already familiar with Shackleton's exploits will be equally gripped by this account of survival against the odds. A concluding author's note details McKernan's careful research and commitment to presenting the story as accurately as possible, and a time line, source bibliography and further reading list round out a meticulously crafted work. An epilogue relates what happened to the crew after their return from the Antarctic, a particularly welcome feature for those reluctant to leave this richly realized world of polar exploration. (MVL) ©2005 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

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