Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Keep On! The Story of Matthew Henson, Co-discoverer of the North Pole

Keep On! The Story of Matthew Henson, Co-discoverer of the North Pole

Deborah Hopkinson
Illustrator:  Stephen Alcorn 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 6 to 10
Peachtree Publishers, 2009   ISBN: 978-1561454730

Matthew Henson was born in a cabin in Maryland just after the American Civil War ended. Though he dreamed of exploring distant lands and of having grand adventures, Matt had limited opportunities because he was an African American. When he was just thirteen, Matt set off to seek his fortune. He ended up in the port city of Baltimore. Here he managed to get a job on a ship.

For five years, Matt traveled around the world on the Katie Hines. The captain, Captain Childs, took a liking to Matt and he taught the boy mathematics, history, navigation, and more. After the captain died, Matt got a job in a shop in Washington, D.C. Here he met an explorer called Robert E. Peary. Peary decided to hire Matt to be his assistant and Matt's life changed dramatically.

In this fascinating and beautifully written book, Deborah Hopkinson shows her readers how much Matthew Henson contributed to all of Robert E. Peary's expeditions, including his successful 1909 expedition. Inspiring quotes from Henson's own writings can be found throughout the book, and the vintage style illustrations compliment the text perfectly.

At the back of the book, readers will find further information about Henson's life, a timeline, and more.