Victoria McKernan is the acclaimed author of The Devil's Paintbox and Shackleton's Stowaway, a historical novel for young adults about the 18-year-old stowaway on Ernest Shackleton's 1914 expedition to the South Pole. She has also written four novels for adults. She lives in Washington, DC, with a dog, two cats, and one boa constrictor.
Gr 5-9-McKernan brings Ernest Shackleton's 1914 expedition to the Antarctic alive through the eyes of its youngest crew member. Perce Blackborow, 18, hides in a cramped locker for two days until the Endurance is at sea before revealing his presence as a stowaway. Given a chance to disembark at South Georgia Island, he signs up as a steward and a gruff Shackleton insists that he write to his family: "Tell them what god-awful mischief you've got yourself into." The ill-fated ship is crushed in the ice hundreds of miles from the nearest whaling station, forcing the crew to drag its lifeboats and gear across unstable ice floes. A perilous voyage takes them to Elephant Island, where they are stranded for months while Shackleton and five others go for help. Perce endures the worst of it, having no feeling in his frostbitten feet. Details of the ensuing amputation of toes are realistic, an example of the author's sharp eye for authenticity. Although fictional, Perce's diary entries add dimension to the character and blend imagination with historical accuracy. Several of the crew members are powerfully brought to life, including Perce's fun-loving mate, Billy; the obsessive rationer, Orde Lees; the compassionate Frank Wild; and Shackleton, the leader they all idolize. Add this suspenseful tale to adventure/survival collections.-Vicki Reutter, Cazenovia High School, NY Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.