Review Blog

May 17 2017

Into the white: Scott's Antarctic odyssey by Joanna Grochowicz

cover image

Allen and Unwin, 2017. ISBN 9781760293659
(Age: 10+) Recommended. Antarctica, Exploration, Heroism. This extraordinary story of Captain Scott and his ill fated race to be the first to make it to the South Pole, is given new resonance for younger students in this highly readable book, Into the white. Having heard of Scott and his fellow expeditioners at primary school when Social Studies was filled with stories of well known people, I knew about their heroism, their daring and some of the tales about their trek. I read this thinking I knew at least the background of the tale, but was pleasantly surprised: the story is compulsive and the detail simply mind boggling. I can hardly imagine minus ten celsius, let alone minus fifty, but these men trudged on. The description of Wilson's hands bulging with frostbite and then saying that they would keep going, paralleled the tale of another three stuck on an ice flow being circled by killer whales, the poor horses slipping into the water. Or having to kill the horses to feed the dogs, or getting into sleeping bags that were wetter than they were. All the stories in this book attest to their courage and bravery, keeping on even though they knew that Amundsen from Norway would get there first.
The comradeship of the crew is impressive, the leadership shown by Scott amazing, and above all their reasons for being there a salutary reminder of the values of those who have gone before us.
I would have loved a timeline but was able to access one quite easily on the internet, which I kept referring to as I read. Written for younger readers, it is still 256 pages long and supplemented with a cache of photographs in the middle, several maps at the beginning and appendixes at the end rounding off the story.
I hope more people will read of these brave adventurers.
Fran Knight

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