NORTHWEST PASSAGE by Stan Rogers
Kirkus Star

NORTHWEST PASSAGE

by , , illustrated by
Age Range: 8 - 18

KIRKUS REVIEW

This stunning portrayal of early efforts to explore Canada’s Northwest Passage presents Rogers’ 1981 song in combination with glorious illustrations, historical commentary and a gallery of explorers.

Called Canada’s “other national anthem” by a former prime minister, Rogers’ well-known lyrics describe Sir John Franklin’s disastrous expedition of the 1840s, comparing it with the singer’s own travels across the country. Franklin’s ships became icebound. His men disappeared and may have resorted to cannibalism before starving to death. Nevertheless, the English explorer has been honored as the discoverer of the Northwest Passage. Today, with the ice diminished and Canada and other Arctic countries looking forward to a year-round shipping route, this history has become even more relevant. James supplies a timeline of exploration and an account of this failed journey that explain Rogers’ allusions, and, more strikingly, he illustrates the song’s various threads. With bold acrylic strokes and India-ink outlines, he paints scenes from the historical journey as well as the singer’s more modern one. Deep blues and whites predominate, and there is a sense of desolation. Oversized double-page spreads sometimes meld the explorers’ experiences with Rogers’ own. Panels depict the historical episodes. Both realistic and allusive, these images are as haunting as the song.

For U.S. readers, an illumination of a little-known history; for all Americans, a treasure. (words and music, sources) (Informational picture book. 8 & up)




Pub Date: Sept. 10th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-55498-153-3
Page count: 56pp
Publisher: Groundwood
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2013




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