Imagine if you were given a grant by the National Science Foundation to spend four months in Antarctica to sketch, take pictures, and write home to friends and family. Antarctic Journal
is the record of Jennifer Owings Dewey's trek to the bottom of the world: "a planet as remote as the moon in its own way," she writes. Antarctica, home to 100 million penguins, has ice up to three miles thick, covering 98 percent of the land. The author writes her account of this icy-cold adventure at Palmer Station in an accessible journal, sprinkled with letters home and colored-pencil sketches and photographs of various landscapes and Arctic creatures. Discussions of penguin behavior are interrupted by the history of Gondwanaland and continental drift, while snippets about trying to cook krill (the tiny phytoplankton that blue whales eat) in garlic and butter add a comic and personal touch to her adventure. Descriptions of the "green flash" that happens just before sunset, red tide, and a mirage effect called the "fata morgana" (named after the fairy Morgan who built castles in the air) are sure to intrigue and inspire young explorers. This is a charming, personable introduction to a forbidding, fascinating continent. (Ages 8 to 12) --Karin Snelson
From School Library Journal
Grade 3-6-Readers get a glimpse of an artist's four-month stay in Antarctica through her sketches and photos, journal entries, and letters home. Her personal experiences (having Ad?lie penguins examine her typewriter, falling into a crevasse on a glacier) are interspersed with facts about the history, landforms, weather, and life of Antarctica. The combination of softly colored sketches and photos is effective, although the photos are small and some lack crispness. A great deal of fascinating information is included in the text, which flows easily from fact bites to narrative. The book is similar to Sophie Webb's My Season with Penguins: An Antarctic Journal (Houghton, 2000). Both artists spent one season in Antarctica learning, sketching, and writing. Both mix fact with personal experience. Because Webb is also a scientist and her interest is penguins, her book has a tighter focus. Dewey's title gives more general information about the continent. (Webb's book is assigned to the 500s; Dewey's to the 900s.) Neither title has an index, and, although both are short enough for researchers to skim, they are both meant to be read cover to cover. Libraries already owning Webb's book will want to consider Antarctic Journal as well because of its broader scope. Fans of Antarctica will want to read both.Ellen Heath, Orchard School, Ridgewood, NJ
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.