NORTH by Donna Jo Napoli

NORTH

Age Range: 9 & up
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Driven by a yearning he can’t articulate but knows is essential to his very being, Alvin, a soft and unsophisticated 12-year-old African-American boy living in Washington, D.C., runs away from his caring but smothering mother and physically declining great grandmother. His goal is to follow in the footsteps of his hero Matthew Henson, a black explorer and co-discoverer of the North Pole, whose description of the “fierce beauty” of the frozen north has captured his imagination. Traveling by rail and later dog-sledge in the frigid cold, Alvin, who is dogged, resourceful, and has the rare capacity to find friends and create allies, makes it all the way to Canada’s Bylot Island, high in the Arctic Circle. There he gains knowledge, maturity, and, ultimately, freedom of spirit, living, working, and learning traditional ways from Idlouk, a wise old half-Inuk hermit. It’s an unlikely journey, but Napoli makes it a fascinating one, organically incorporating a wealth of detail about the Arctic and its human and non-human inhabitants. (Fiction. 9+)

Pub Date: May 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-06-057987-0
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Greenwillow
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2004




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