JOURNEY TO THE BOTTOMLESS PIT by Elizabeth Mitchell

JOURNEY TO THE BOTTOMLESS PIT

The Story of Stephen Bishop and Mammoth Cave
Age Range: 9 - 11
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Embroidering the skimpy historical record with invented dialogue and details, Mitchell presents the story of this country’s first great cave explorer—a slave (until the last few years of his life) assigned to guide tourists visiting Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave. Though seldom mentioned by name in contemporary accounts, Bishop not only led tours through known areas of what has turned out to be the world’s most extensive cave system, he opened up many new tunnels and chambers, drew a comprehensive map, and became a self-educated expert on cave geology. Though his eyes, Mitchell introduces many of the Cave’s natural wonders, and also traces its pre–Civil War development as America’s second-greatest tourist attraction (behind Niagara Falls). Despite stilted dialogue—“I’ll warrant even the caves in Europe are not so beautiful”—and the lack of clear separation between fact and fiction, this effectively raises the profile of an American who deserves to be better known, and also provides a tantalizing glimpse into an underground world that even now has not been fully explored. (afterword) (Fictionalized nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-670-05908-0
Page count: 128pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2004