From School Library Journal
K-Gr 4-In this stimulating, well-integrated mixture of text and images, a fictional nine-year-old accompanies her dad, the captain of the Aurora Australis, as he delivers people and supplies to Mawson Station in Antarctica. Lester based the book on her own six-week excursion on the vessel. She combines sketches and paintings of Sophie-peeking out from her curtained berth or finding her way back to the station in a blizzard using rope-with rubber stamps, photographs, and art by children, received in response to emails she sent during her journey. Sophie's journal entries make up the text. There is great child appeal in the images, harsh conditions, and survival strategies, as well as in the behavior of animals. Diagrams depict ship parts and how icebergs are made; captioned postage stamps describe the fates of four early explorers. Occasional sequential photographs, sometimes grouped as 20 to 25 rectangles to a page, reveal the multiple moods of icebergs and sunsets and convey the sense that this adventure really happened. Endpapers contain geographical and historical tidbits and maps, first with a traditional view, where Antarctica is the southern-most point, and then an aerial view. This subject matter is similar to Sophie Webb's My Season With Penguins (Houghton Harcourt, 2000) and Jennifer Owings Dewey's Antarctic Journal (HarperCollins, 2001), though both of those volumes are rather dense for the picture-book format.-Wendy Lukehart, District of Columbia Public Libraryα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journal. LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*Starred Review* In richly illustrated journal entries, nine-year-old Sophie Scott shares the adventure of her monthlong voyage to Mawson Station, in Antarctica, on the icebreaker her dad captains. Flanked by endpapers with detailed maps, Lester’s colorful and engaging picture book is a fount of facts about the southernmost continent. In short paragraphs, Sophie talks about the South Pole’s early explorers, life in an Antarctic research station and aboard an icebreaker, types of icebergs, Antarctic wildlife, the origins of the aurora australis, and more. The lively art has a playful, childlike feel, and, along with dozens of photos, the full-page reproductions of student paintings of Antarctic scenes, submitted to Lester during her own trip there in 2005, are an especially nice touch. There’s even a little bit of tension, as Sophie gets stranded at Mawson during a blizzard, and readers are reminded that, despite the fun tone of Sophie’s tale, expeditions to the Antarctic are serious business. But the real draw is the wealth of fascinating information about a place few people will ever get a chance to visit. Inquisitive readers eager to learn about the most mysterious corners of the planet will love this glimpse into near-uncharted territory. Grades 2-4. --Sarah Hunter