Through storm, burning cold, dehydration, disease, all 28 men returned after 22 “unexpected” months at sea; the book’s a...



History has always had its ages of exploration, but the start of the 20th century is right up there.

Here in crisp novel format is Ernest Shackleton’s brainstorm—oh, call it a fever dream—to cross the Antarctic continent via the South Pole, an effort doomed when his approach vessel froze in pack ice in 1915. The story gets down to this: Shackleton tries to make sure that all 28 men on his expedition get home—the dogs and the cat don’t make it, ahem—in a story so preposterous that it has become legend. McCumiskey coaxes drama from the episode—dying of the cold, starvation, or wasting disease could be like watching grass grow—and Butler’s artwork brings emotional Technicolor to the land of white. His craggy linework is heroic even as it conveys the horrific conditions. Once on South Georgia Island, the men drive nails through their boots to climb the ice-encrusted mountains to get to the whaling station on the other side. Here we meet many of the book’s cruxes: “Always keeping a brave face, Shackleton knows the key to survival is all about keeping spirits high. He has come so far that he isn’t going to let nails piercing the soles of his feet stop him now.”

Through storm, burning cold, dehydration, disease, all 28 men returned after 22 “unexpected” months at sea; the book’s a success, too—no small feat for an oft-told tale. (Graphic nonfiction. 10 & up)

Pub Date: Dec. 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-84889-281-1

Page Count: 96

Publisher: The Collins Press/Dufour Editions

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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In a large, handsome format, Tarnowska offers six tales plus an abbreviated version of the frame story, retold in formal but contemporary language and sandwiched between a note on the Nights’ place in her childhood in Lebanon and a page of glossary and source notes. Rather than preserve the traditional embedded structure and cliffhanger cutoffs, she keeps each story discrete and tones down the sex and violence. This structure begs the question of why Shahriyar lets Shahrazade [sic] live if she tells each evening’s tale complete, but it serves to simplify the reading for those who want just one tale at a time. Only the opener, “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp,” is likely to be familiar to young readers; in others a prince learns to control a flying “Ebony Horse” by “twiddling” its ears, contending djinn argue whether “Prince Kamar el Zaman [or] Princess Boudour” is the more beautiful (the prince wins) and in a Cinderella tale a “Diamond Anklet” subs for the glass slipper. Hénaff’s stylized scenes of domed cityscapes and turbaned figures add properly whimsical visual notes to this short but animated gathering. (Folktales. 10-12)


Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-84686-122-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Barefoot Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2010

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A vivid mix of local color and tongue-in-cheek wit, albeit with loud sour notes.


From a Labrador native, homespun “recitations” in equally homespun rhyme.

Written for oral performance (most are available as recordings) and easy to read aloud despite plenty of regional jargon, these 13 original yarns feature big dollops of wry humor. There’s fog thick enough to eat (“Mother used to dice it with pork fat and onions, / Or she’d mix it with mustard as a poultice for bunions”); the horrific consequences of trying to unclog a septic tank using a pump fitted with an old boat motor; and the experiences of a “Man of La Manche,” who is abducted not by aliens but Capt. Kirk, attempting to beam a moose up to the Enterprise. Recurring characters include 90-year-old “Super Nan,” who vanquishes a bullying polar bear at Bingo, and Uncle Jim Buckle. Paddon trips hard over the edges of good taste in “Berries,” a violent tale of a berry-picking war during which Jim takes a second wife, “a woman best described as Atilla the Hen,” after his first is killed by a land mine—but even that one comes to an uproarious climax, followed by an amicable resolution: “I guess blood’s…even thicker than jam.” It’s hard to tell from the small, roughly drawn figures in Major’s appropriately sober vignettes, but the (human) cast is likely all white. The glossary is extensive and essential for readers outside of Newfoundland and Labrador.

A vivid mix of local color and tongue-in-cheek wit, albeit with loud sour notes. (Verse tales. 11-15)

Pub Date: March 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-927917-15-2

Page Count: 88

Publisher: Running the Goat

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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