Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Antarctica: Journeys to the South Pole

Myers, Walter Dean. 2004. ANTARCTICA: JOURNEYS TO THE SOUTH POLE. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 0439220017 [Suggested Grade Levels 5 and up]

After reading ANTARCTICA the lengths to which men will go to explore geographic wildernesses becomes apparent. Antarctica is in part a history of the exploration of a foreboding place and what drives men to explore. Myers begins with his remembrance of himself as a young sailor traveling all the way to a base within the Arctic Circle. The first explorer described is James Cole in the 18th century and the book ends with post World War II explorations. Throughout this work is one page or less subject summarizations which cover subjects relevant to survival in the Arctic. Examples include scurvy, latitude and longitude among others. One of the most interesting chapters concerns a bullying naval officer named Charles Weeks.

Myers story telling ability is most interesting when the human beings portrayed appear to be warts and all vs. a relatively dry recitation of linear events. Concluding sections are a timeline from 1773 to 1959 and a bibliography of sources used in the writing of this book. An index ends this work. While this work may not appeal to a wide audience, those readers curious about why physical danger appeals to some people throughout various times may find this book interesting.

Post a bulletin board with newspaper and magazine articles on real world survival stories in a number of settings. Have children read a variety of survival tales and then discuss do they now believe these stories have a strong basis in reality and could actually take place. Discuss whether characters who survive in one fictional setting could survive in another? Create posters with survival tips covering a variety of situations.

Fiction and nonfiction titles on how to survive in hostile environments:
Hobbs, Will. WILD MAN ISLAND. ISBN 0688174736
Mayhar, Ardath. MEDICINE WALK. ISBN 0395618258
Weaver, Will. MEMORY BOY: A NOVEL. ISBN 006440854X

By Andrea L. Williams

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