In an eye-opening companion to such works as Jennifer Armstrong’s Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World (1999) and Elizabeth Cody Kimmel’s Ice Story (p. 66) on Shackleton, readers get a contemporary look at Antarctica.
Wheeler offers a scrapbook-style travelogue of her seven-month stint on the world’s coldest continent. Letters to her godson, Daniel, describe a harsh environment so cold that dental fillings fall out. Double-page spreads dotted with full-color snapshots form short chapters on the icy region, suiting up, the difficulties of everyday existence, food and drink, shelter, transportation, entertainment, and wildlife. The last third of the volume is devoted to current scientific pursuits as well as an overview of famous expeditions to the nearly uninhabitable “bottom of the planet.” The cheery photographs – most by the author – show her dwarfed by the Barne glacier, posing with Emperor penguins, even building an igloo. While the chatty letters highlight personal details of the trip, boxed inserts provide background information. Key dates in Antarctic history complete this accessible profile, ideal as entry into units on the region. (maps, charts, diagrams, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)