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KEEP ON! by Deborah Hopkinson


The Story of Matthew Henson, Co-Discoverer of the North Pole

by Deborah Hopkinson and illustrated by Stephen Alcorn

Age Range: 5 - 10

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-56145-473-0
Publisher: Peachtree

“Matt was born in 1866, just after the Civil War, at a time when poor black boys like him had few chances to roam the next county, to say nothing of another country, the seven seas, or the top of the world.” Nevertheless, he went on to do all of those things, first serving on a China trader and later joining Robert E. Peary in the Arctic explorations that culminated in their reaching the North Pole. Timed to the 100th anniversary of the achievement, this brief biography hits hard on the strengths Henson brought to the partnership—his facility with the Inuit language, his ability to fix nearly anything, his rapport with the sled dogs—presenting readers with a portrait of a singularly determined yet ever-affable man. While Hopkinson’s text, which is complemented by excerpts from Henson’s memoir, cannot compare in poetic power to Carole Boston Weatherford’s I, Matthew Henson, illustrated by Eric Velasquez (2008), its straightforward account has its own appeal. Alcorn’s hand-tinted prints feature stylized swirls of waves and snow in monumental tableaux. Handsome. (author’s note, timeline, resources) (Picture book/biography. 5-10)