FICTION

Shackleton

illus. by Nick Bertozzi. 125p. First Second. 2014. pap. $16.99. ISBN 9781596434516.
COPY ISBN
Gr 7 Up—Like Bertozzi's Lewis & Clark (First Second, 2011), this is another graphic novel focusing on the real lives of explorers. Ernest Shackleton is most famous for his plan to cross the Antarctic by foot, which was a miserable failure (their ship Endurance was crushed by the ice, and the crew was stranded for months on end) and yet defied incredible odds (all of the men in the expedition survived). The story is told primarily through dialogue, which helps to personalize this chapter in history, but the informational text and maps will help readers grasp the full impact of the challenges the men faced on this expedition. The book is filled with humanizing touches, like the ways the men kept up morale with practical jokes and playing games together on the ice. Like the famous photographs of Shackleton's expedition, Bertozzi's black-and-white artwork captures both the bleakness and the majesty of the surrounding snow and ice. The cover image is especially gripping, as Shackleton stands on broken slabs of ice while his trapped ship tilts ominously behind him. This book is an excellent choice for readers who enjoy nonfiction, graphic novels, explorers, true adventure, and impossible dreams.—Andrea Lipinski, New York Public Library
Seamlessly incorporating maps and charts among the narrative panels, Nick Bertozzi takes full advantage of the graphic-novel format to tell the story of Ernest Shackleton’s Trans-Antarctic expedition and to present the historical and geographical context in which it took place. Bertozzi’s illustrations have a loose, sketched quality that emphasizes the manifold improvised decisions Shackleton and his crew were forced to make. The art occasionally adds a degree of humor to lighten the harrowing tale. Shackleton is shown to be ambitious to the point of obsession, but when it came to the safety of his men, his devotion, experience, and creativity made their rescue possible. The depiction of his complex character is a highlight of this book. An engrossing, thrilling tale that readers will have trouble putting down.

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