Peter Lerangis,
Antarctica: Escape from Disaster
(Scholastic, 2000)

They're in quite a pickle.

Antarctica: Escape from Disaster, based on a true story, begins in 1910, with the crew of the Mystery already icebound in a failed attempt to reach the South Pole. Their ship is trapped and in peril from the crushing weight of the ice, and the men are already suffering the effects of the bitter cold and their losses so far.

The story by Peter Lerangis began in the companion book, Antarctica: Journey to the Pole, which was not included in this package for review. (I put off this review for quite some time, thinking I might come across a copy of Journey someday, but that never worked out.) As an adventure tale, Escape stands alone, although it would have been nice to have the full story in one package; the book was divided in two, I assume, to make them more appealing to the target audience of young readers.

Appropriate to its younger target, Escape glosses over some of the despair and hardship that Lerangis hints at in this book. Still, there's plenty of grit as these desperate men try first to free their trapped ship, then set off across the ice to find some other hope of salvation. The gripping tale gets even better once they set sail in tiny boats, hoping to find another explorer's ship in the vast southern ocean.

I can recommend the Antarctica books for fans of real-life adventure stories, young or old. It's not the best historical fiction I've seen, but it holds your attention and is a relatively fast and easy read.

book review by
Tom Knapp

5 May 2012

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