February 22, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Pick of the Day: The Impossible Rescue: The True Story of an Amazing Arctic Adventure

Book cover: Whaleship in the arctic circleSANDLER, Martin W. The Impossible Rescue: The True Story of an Amazing Arctic Adventure. 176p. bibliog. chron. index. maps. notes. photos. CIP. Candlewick. Sept. 2012. RTE $22.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-5080-3. LC 2011018618.
Gr 5 Up–Endurance. Fortitude. Bravery. Any of these words could easily describe the people involved in this amazing, but little-known rescue-adventure. The year was 1897 and whaling was big business in America. Whaleship captains hunting in the Arctic Circle, pushing for more whales and the profits they meant, ended up stranded by the ice pack, affecting eight ships and their crews. One ship managed to escape the danger and alert the U.S. government to the predicament, thus setting in motion a nearly “impossible rescue.” A few daring men with the experience and willingness to tackle such a mission quickly gathered their supplies and courage and headed north to bring food in the form of herded reindeer and help to some 300 sailors stuck in the Arctic winter. Using extensive primary sources in the form of journals, reports, letters, and photographs, Sandler has pieced together a stirring and evocative retelling of this historical adventure. The writing draws readers into both the suspense of reaching the struggling whalers in time as well as the dire, life-threatening conditions that the rescuers themselves faced. Archival black-and-white photographs taken during the journey help pull the whole story together and prove an excellent visual accompaniment to the unfolding drama. An epilogue answers many of the “what happened after…” questions, and extensive source notes round out the back matter. For readers who prefer their drama to be true, suggest this title along with Jennifer Armstrong’s Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World (Crown, 1998), Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air (Villard, 1997), and Dolores Johnson’s Onward: a Photobiography of African-American Polar Explorer Matthew Henson (National Geographic, 2005).–Jody Kopple, Shady Hill School, Cambridge, MA