Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Trapped by the Ice: Shackleton’s Amazing Antarctic Adventure

Trapped by the Ice: Shackleton’s Amazing Antarctic Adventure

Michael McCurdy
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Walker, 2002   ISBN: 978-0802776334

Sir Ernest Shackleton and his crew of the Endurance were in a fix and their prospects were not looking good. It had begun when Shackleton came up with the idea for a grand adventure: to the cross the polar ice cap of Antarctica. Roald Amundsen had already reached the South Pole so this was the next big target and Shackleton was determined to be the one who achieved. Now however his ship was locked in the ice and was being slowly crushed by it.

Shackleton first made the decision to get the crew, the lifeboats, and all their supplies off the Endurance. They set up camp on the ice miles away from the nearest land and within the month the crew watched as the Endurance disappeared into the Weddell Sea beneath the ice.

There was only one thing left to do and that was to load up the lifeboats and drag them across the ice towards land. This was so hard that the men decided to wait for the sea ice to break up so that they could sail across the water rather than have to pull the heavy boats across the ice. It was a long, cold, and dangerous wait but eventually the sea ice began to break up into smaller floes and the men were able to lower their boats into the water.

A seven hundred mile journey lay ahead for Shackleton and his men if they were to try to get to South Georgia Island. Instead it was decided that they were make for Elephant Island. There most of the crew remained while Shackleton and five of his fittest men went on to get help.

Shackleton and his five followers went through great hardships before they finally reached South Georgia Island. Remarkably all five men survived and they were able to mount a rescue mission and save the comrades that they had left behind on Elephant Island.

It is hard to imagine in this day and age of airplanes, computers, radios, and satellite communication, what it would have been like to be stranded in the middle of a frozen sea with no way of calling for or getting help. Shackleton knew that his men were relying on him and despite great odds, he brought them through and got them home safely. Michael McCurdy captures the determination of Shackleton and his men and he also shows us how remarkable this achievement was when polar explorers had very little to rely on other than their own courage and survival skills.