Rating: 5 stars
If I had an extra few hours this morning, I would research why it is exactly that boys need adventure stories. I remember in my semesters as an English major discussing the pull towards adventure and self-testing dramas while discussing Joseph Campbell's The Hero With a Thousand Faces. (Click here if you're curious.) But suffice it to say that boys like and need these types of stories. Girls, too, sure, but boys even more.
Therefore, when my sister-in-law said that her son/my nephew is into explorers and exploration, I took it as my auntish duty to find some good books for him for the holidays. He's 7. This is one of those books that I found, purchased, and then read (because that's what I do) with Ben over the course of a few days. It is fantastic.
|When they arrived home,|
they told their grandmother their story
of the boat that sank, the long walk over the ice,
the hungry summer.
How did Martin make this into a children's book, you might wonder? Steffenson arranged for an Inupiak family to go with him on his expedition. Wisely, he knew that they would know the area better than he; they would know how to survive...how to hunt and fish, sew clothes and cook. Within this family were two small girls: Pagnasuk, 8, and Makpii, 2.
You can imagine Ben's surprise at having a Kiefer-aged explorer!
|A picture of the survivors, including the two young girls.|
This book definitely has all the parts of a really good adventure story: preparations and packing, danger and death, courage and risk, a total crisis and resolution in the form of sympathetic walrus hunters-turned-rescuers.
In addition to the fantastic, well-written story, the illustrations are amazing. Beth Krommes won the Caldecott for The House in the Night, and she's illustrated a few other children's books. Her latest book is Swirl by Swirl, written by Joyce Sidman.
It is a very good book, especially for the tricky transition age between picture books and chapter books.
P.S. The other book I got for my nephew is So You Want to be a World Explorer.