Posts Tagged ‘Ernest Shackleton’

Mrs Chippy the Cat

By Susan Brocker

Illustrated by Raymond McGrath

ISBN 9781775437086

Scholastic NZ

In 1914, Captain Ernest Shackleton led an expedition to Antarctica on the ship Endurance. Our very own New Zealander, Frank Worsley, was part of this famous exploration too. There was also another very special member on board; Mrs Chippy, the tomcat and his owner, Harry McNeish, the ship’s carpenter.

Mrs Chippy was useful as a good mouser, catching all the mice and rats. The crew came to love the cat and when it accidentally fell overboard one day, they rescued it from the icy, Antarctic waters. When the Endurance became stuck in the frozen ice, Mrs Chippy took turns keeping the crew cosy and warm at night time by curling up beside them. Cats are wonderful for keeping you warm on cold winter nights, so this must have been extra special for the crew, as they slept on the freezing ice floe in their flimsy tents.

Susan Brocker brings Mrs Chippy’s story to life, and Raymond McGrath adds to it with his more natural, retro-looking illustrations. There is a sense of ruggedness to the pictures which works well with the historical aspects of the story.

At the back of the book there is a page of historical notes with photos of the real Mrs Chippy, which adds a lovely bit extra to the story.

Ice Breaker

By Maria Gill

Illustrated by Alistair Hughes

ISBN 9781869665364

New Holland Publishers

 

I have always been a fan of explorer Frank Worsley. His photo hangs proudly in our school foyer as he is deemed a past pupil hero, his determination something to aspire to. As books on Antarctic explorers go, most focus on Sir Ernest Shackleton so it is wonderful to see Frank Worsley getting the attention he so rightly deserves. If it wasn’t for his incredible navigation skills there would have been no survivors from this dangerous journey.

In 1914 an attempt by the crew of the Endurance to traverse the Antarctic continent began well enough. Unfortunately the ship became stuck in the ice and eventually sunk. This is the story of that  extraordinary journey and how all the men survived because of Frank Worsley and Sir Ernest Shackleton.

It is hard to believe that everyone survived given the constant setbacks they endured. It was bad enough being shipwrecked but the freezing cold temperatures, bitter winds and treacherous conditions that hounded the crew is beyond our imagination. The journey is well recorded here in Maria’s creative non-fiction picture book. Again, as with all of Maria’s books, the subject is well-researched. It is hard to believe that no lives were lost or that the men did not just give up in such unbelievably harsh conditions. This book shows the depth of character these men had and their resilience and determination to stay alive.

The illustrator captures this determination in the faces of the men. The bitter cold and harsh reality of their situation is also wonderfully captured in the illustrations. A great record by author and illustrator of one of New Zealand’s true heroes.

Suitable for all levels as a well documented account of one of New Zealand’s true heroic explorers.