From School Library Journal
Grade 5 Up-About a century ago, Australian Douglas Mawson's interest in glaciers led him to become a member of Ernest Shackleton's 1908 expedition to Antarctica. The geologist and two others made their way to the magnetic South Pole and back, gathering valuable scientific data. Mawson subsequently met with Robert Scott but decided not to join that ill-fated trip to the Pole. Instead, he organized his own Australasian Antarctic Expedition. Double-page duo-tone photos are one of several adept design details that suggest the vastness of the terrain, while the text describes how Mawson and two companions, Lt. Belgrave Ninnis and Dr. Xavier Mertz, set out to explore the ice shelf with sled dogs. Five difficult weeks out from base camp, Ninnis was lost to a crevasse along with most of the food. Over the next few days the remaining dogs were shot and butchered. Both men suffered greatly during the treacherous journey back to camp, and Mertz died. Mawson barely survived, but recovered and eventually returned home. An appendix explains that the men had inadvertently been poisoned by a surfeit of Vitamin A from the dogs' livers. A resources list includes books, interviews, and Internet sites. An enticing, attractive, and inspiring addition to adventure/exploration collections.
Joel Shoemaker, Southeast Junior High School, Iowa City, IA
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Gr. 5-8. Before Shackleton's 1914 expedition on the Endurance came Douglas Mawson's tragic South Pole exploration. The 1911 expedition was a dream come true for the 29-year-old Mawson, an Australian geology teacher, and the carefully planned journey went well until Mawson and two companions set out to map the interior of the continent. Three hundred miles from base camp, tragedy struck: a member of the party fell into a deep crevasse along with most of the team's food. Badly frostbitten and starving, Mawson managed to return to the base camp, surviving to tell of the harrowing ordeal. Although the personal loss was tragic, the expedition was a great success because of its scientific contribution. Mawson was hailed a national hero and knighted for his efforts. Bredson's compelling story of courage and survival draws heavily on quotes from Mawson and other primary source documents; there are also charts, maps, and many photographs, including some taken by Frank Hurley, who later traveled on the Endurance. A chronology and sources for further research are appended. Ed Sullivan
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