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Shackleton's Stowaway Hardcover – February 8, 2005

15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-9 - McKernan brings Ernest Shackleton's 1914 expedition to the Antarctic alive through the eyes of its youngest crew member. Perce Blackborow, 18, hides in a cramped locker for two days until the Endurance is at sea before revealing his presence as a stowaway. Given a chance to disembark at South Georgia Island, he signs up as a steward and a gruff Shackleton insists that he write to his family: "Tell them what god-awful mischief you've got yourself into." The ill-fated ship is crushed in the ice hundreds of miles from the nearest whaling station, forcing the crew to drag its lifeboats and gear across unstable ice floes. A perilous voyage takes them to Elephant Island, where they are stranded for months while Shackleton and five others go for help. Perce endures the worst of it, having no feeling in his frostbitten feet. Details of the ensuing amputation of toes are realistic, an example of the author's sharp eye for authenticity. Although fictional, Perce's diary entries add dimension to the character and blend imagination with historical accuracy. Several of the crew members are powerfully brought to life, including Perce's fun-loving mate, Billy; the obsessive rationer, Orde Lees; the compassionate Frank Wild; and Shackleton, the leader they all idolize. Add this suspenseful tale to adventure/survival collections. - Vicki Reutter, Cazenovia High School, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 6-9. This fictionalized account of Ernest Shackleton's 1914-16 Antarctic expedition follows steward Perce Blackborow from the time he stows away on the Endurance through his harrowing experiences in the Antarctic (including the amputation of his toes). Sprinkled throughout the narrative are selections from Blackborow's pseudo-journal record that chronicles ongoing shipboard routines and the camaraderie among crew, in spite of fractious personalities and grim conditions. These passages speak with a seaman's voice and view the events and desperate circumstances through the eyes of the ordinary sailors, not the officers. Based on published and unpublished journals and interviews with Blackborow's family, this gritty survival story is an excellent supplement to nonfiction accounts such as Ice Story (1999) by Elizabeth Kimmel and Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World (2000) by Jennifer Armstrong. An epilogue describing the lives of the sailors after the rescue, a list of sources, a time line, a crew roster, and a bibliography are appended. Linda Perkins
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 740L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 317 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (February 8, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375826912
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375826917
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,716,421 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Ortiz on December 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Shackleton's Stowaway" is a fabulous piece of historical fiction. Well-researched, the characters come alive in this compelling story of survival, hope, and courage. The writing is excellent, and the story a real attention-getter for children. The virtues of another time come to life under McKernan's creative crafting of an unforgettable story.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Wubzy on November 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Shackelton's Stowaway is a very entertaining book. It tells you a lot about history and is full of adventure. We read it for literature circles (six of us), and thought it was amazing! We can't wait to read it again and again!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Heidi Grange on August 15, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a fictionalized version of Shackleton's and his crew's year and a half ordeal near Antarctica (they never actually landed on the continent itself). The author does a great job giving the reader a feel for what it may have been like to be there. At the end of the book she explains why she presented things the way she did. A great survival story that shows that no matter how powerful we humans think we are, mother nature is more powerful.
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By Willow on July 12, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
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.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
In 1914, 18-year-old Welshman Perce Blackborow and his American shipmate Billy Bakewell find themselves stranded in Buenos Aires after losing their berths to a shipwreck. Famed British polar explorer Ernest Shackleton's ship Endurance is in port, and needs replacements for two drunken crewmen. Billy gets hired because of his already rare (even this close to the golden age of sail) experience with sailing vessels; but Perce, who has nothing to offer except youth, strength, and willingness to work hard, only manages to join the expedition by hiding in another sailor's footlocker until the ship is too far at sea for Shackleton to do anything except put the stowaway to work. The great man, whom Perce holds in awe, warns the youngster that in times of desperation stowaways are always eaten first!

So begins Victoria McKernan's novel based on the real Perce Blackborow, who did everything ascribed to him in her book except keep a journal. She takes the carefully researched facts of this adventure (chronicled by Shackleton himself in South) and writes them from the viewpoints of the men involved, and the result enthralled me. This is listed as a novel for teens, but I found it well worth an adult reader's time. I especially appreciated the author's notes at the book's end, in which she identified the few points at which she took liberties with known facts (mostly a matter of tweaking the time line to give her story a smoother flow). Hopefully many readers in her intended audience will go on to read South, and wind up - like me - hooked on such books for life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By justbecause on October 11, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
We had checked out the book at the public library, because my son read it in school (8th grade), but he was so fascinated by it, that he recommended it to buy it and that everyone in the family should read it.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I have read several books and historic accounts of the Shackleton expedition. But never before have I felt the raw emotion that must of been experienced by these men as they faced the almost insurmountable brutality of the Antarctic along with the mind numbing stress of their ordeal. This book takes and already memorable story and makes it even better. Highly recommended.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is an incredible book. Interesting. Historically and geographically accurate. Entertaining. Inspiring. Appealing to children thru adults. Few books can do all this successfully.
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