Antarctic Adventures by Bartha Hill
Antarctic Adventures by Bartha Hill is a wonderful children’s book designed to explore the geography, history, and culture of Antarctic. Most of the book looks at the various voyages to the Anarctic, the trials men faced in getting there, and the extreme conditions they were met with when they arrived. The determination and long suffering that men like Ernest Shackleton faced when traveling to this region was a vivid reminder of the perils they faced. The book is divided into 16 chapters with each chapter weighing in at about between 3-7 pages. This book is great for readers wanting an action packed book that they get work through easily.
The early chapters tell of the voyages of Captain Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton setting out for the South Pole. Hill notes that, “They were the first to see a penguin rookery (nest), set up a base in McMurdo Sound, and travelled farther south than any explore had done so far” (13). Scott knew that other countries were setting up voyages for the South Pole but he failed to realize that a Norweigan explore named Roald Amundsen set off for the South Pole as well. Amundsen reached the South Pole first with his team while Scott’s team was stricken with illness and bitter weather conditions (16-17). The plight of Scott’s team was remarkable sight of determination and focus, even in the worst of circumstances.
One of my favorite chapters was The Story of Mrs. Chippy. Shackleton came up with an idea to pilot two ships, one for to set up a base at Weddell Sea and the other to set up for his journey across the continent of Antarctica by dogsled. The ship’s carpenter, Henry McNeish decided to bring his cat and hide her in one of his toolboxes. Hill writes, “Actually when he heard about it, Shackleton was quite pleased to have a cat on board to keep mice and rats under control. The cat became known as Mrs Chippy (carpenters were often called ‘chippies’) …All the sailors loved him, but no one more than the carpenter who had brought him on board” (40-41). You can imagine how difficult and monotonous the job of a carpenter or seamen on a boat like this would be. Mrs Chippy served as a kind of good friend to many on the boat. Word had got out that Shackleton and his team had all died but when they reached the Norweigan whaling station, the captain was overjoyed.
Finding out about penguins and their nesting habits was also quite illuminating. The male sits on the egg for 3-4 months until the baby cracks out of its shell. The mother and father take turns bringing food for the family. Overall, I think this is a great introduction for kids about some of the voyages, animal life, and conditions of both the South Pole and Antarctica.
Thanks to CFK4 and Cross Focused Reviews for the copy of this book in exchange for review.