On October 26, 1914, Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance set sail from Buenos Aires in pursuit of the last unclaimed prize in exploration: the crossing of the Antarctic continent. The crew stood on deck to watch the city fade away. All but one. Eighteen-year-old Perce Blackborow hid below in a... read more
Ever feel adventurous? That's how eighteen-year-old Perce Blackborow felt one day in 1914. This book for middle school readers, a true life adventure turned into a novel, tells his story. Perce was stranded in Buenos Aires by a shipwreck when he heard that famous explorer Ernest Shackleton was... read more (warning: may contain spoilers)
Ever feel adventurous? That's how eighteen-year-old Perce Blackborow felt one day in 1914. This book for middle school readers, a true life adventure turned into a novel, tells his story. Perce was stranded in Buenos Aires by a shipwreck when he heard that famous explorer Ernest Shackleton was setting sail for Antarctica in a ship called the Endurance. Perce applied for a job as a sailor but was turned down, so instead he stowed away aboard the ship. He was discovered after a few days and Shackleton let him join the crew. Perce learned to work the sails, helped the cook in the galley, and gave a hand with the sixty-nine sled dogs.
Shackleton's plan was to cross Antarctica with dogsleds, but they never reached land. Instead, their adventure turned into a two-year battle for survival. As the ship neared the frozen continent, it made slow progress through the "ice pack," giant ice floes with very little space between them. Then the sea simply froze solid, and the Endurance was stuck for months. When the ice pack thawed and the floes started moving, their danger greatly increased. Soon the ship was crushed between two floes and had to be abandoned.
They survived a harrowing journey in lifeboats across the icy sea, finally arriving at a small, rocky island. Their food supplies nearly gone, they survived on whatever seals and penguins they could find. Shackleton and a few other men set out in one of the lifeboats for another island 800 miles away where they hoped to get help. Now everyone needed the endurance that had been the name of their ship.
The author, Victoria McKernan, turned this true story into a novel after careful research into the diaries of the ship's crew and books about the expedition. She shares the details of the ordeal, like the taste of seal meat, Perce's encounter with a killer whale, and the agonizing pain of his frost-bitten toes. I felt as though I too was stranded in this frozen wasteland, and it made me wonder if I would have found the courage and stamina to survive.
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