Bound by Ice: A True North Pole Survival Story

WALLACE, Sandra Neil & . 192p. bibliog. index. maps. notes. photos. Calkins Creek. Sept. 2017. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781629794280.
Gr 5–8—In 1879, Navy officer George Washington Delong had "Arctic Fever," and jumped at the chance to lead an expedition to the North Pole aboard the ship, Jeannette. His route was largely based on an esteemed geologist's theory that a warm Pacific Ocean current would lead them effortlessly to the pole. The lure of adventure was so great that the unproven hypothesis drew 1,200 applicants for the expedition's 24-man crew. Although it was expertly staffed, more powerful, and better equipped than previous ships bound for the North Pole, the Jeannette was no match for the merciless arctic winters; a prologue alerts readers that the harrowing story of survival begins when the ship sinks after months of being stuck in the ice. The crew was divvied into three lifeboats with provisions and sled dogs, but became separated over time. Chief Engineer George Melville and 11 other men survived to tell the tale and, while Delong perished, his meticulous logs and journals pieced together the three-year ordeal. Reproductions of these notes and letters, along with images and maps, underscore the authenticity of the narrative. Most poignant is a photo of the porcelain doll Delong meant for his daughter—recovered from his coat pocket when his body was found in Siberia.
VERDICT A younger read in the vein of Jennifer Armstrong's Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World or Nathaniel Philbrick's In the Heart of the Sea: Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex. Add this straightforward but finely researched account whereever true survival stories are popular.

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