The Remarkable Journal of Shackleton's Polar-Bound Cat
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 A shaggy-cat tale, in which Alexander (The Way to Xanadu, 1994, etc.) gives us the feline perspective on travel and exploration in turn-of-the-century Antarctica. Mrs. Chippy is a cat--a tomcat, actually, but a very elegant one whose grace and manners and devotion to his master (Harry ``Chippy'' McNeish) inspired the joke that they are as good as married. Chippy McNeish is ship's carpenter aboard the Endurance, which set sail from London on August 1, 1914, on a voyage to the South Pole that was led by Sir Ernest Shackleton and the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. Mrs. Chippy has her role to play, of course, and it is no small one: hunting mice, keeping watch on deck, and looking after the general well-being of her master and his crewmates. He tells his story through the pages of his journal, which record the daily rituals of weather, naps, navigation, and meals. Once they find themselves stranded in a sea of ice, however, the expedition is forced to encamp for the duration, hoping that their rations will hold out until the thaws--which, as it turned out, were nearly a year in coming. Mrs. Chippy keeps a more level head than most of his crewmates during this long confinement, and he may actually have been their salvation insofar as he injected a familiar note of domesticity and routine into the hardships of their situation (``I myself am very disciplined by nature and have set myself a strict winter regime: Wake at 2:00 p.m.; stretch, wash, take breakfast by the galley stove, greet shipmates, etc.''). By the end, when the ice floes break and the Weddell Sea is open once more, Mrs. Chippy is more popular than ever. Too cute for comfort: after about 20 pages of this, even cat- lovers may find themselves feeling pretty seasick. (12 b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Oct. 17th, 1997
ISBN: 0-06-017546-X
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1997


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