What would it be like to be stuck in Antarctica with no hope of rescue? Who was the most feared pirate in the Caribbean, how did his ship sink, and who eventually discovered it? Who was responsible for bringing fun children’s books to the world?

The answers to these questions can be found in the books reviewed today. There are countless other true stories that will fascinate young minds and ignite imaginations. Ask your librarian for more suggestions and inspire the kids in your life.



Books to Borrow

The following book is available at many public libraries.

“The Endurance: Shackleton’s Perilous Expedition in Antarctica” by Meredith Hooper, illustrated by M. P. Robertson, Abbeville Kids, 28 pages

Read aloud: age 7 – 10

Read yourself: age 8 and older.

Although several books have been written about Sir Ernest Shackleton’s incredible and nearly fatal journey, this selection is written specifically for a younger audience.

In August, 1914, Sir Ernest Shackleton and his crew sailed their ship, Endurance, from England to Antarctica. On January 18, 1915, Endurance was frozen in the pack ice, stuck fast like glue. The ice drifted, carrying Endurance and her crew with it. They were powerless to go where they wanted.

When the ice finally crushed the ship to splinters, the men were forced to abandon ship and camp on drifting ice floes for almost 6 months. Finally able to launch their lifeboats into the water hardly meant they were out of danger. The ocean was a much more perilous enemy.

Miraculously all three boats did land on solid land: uninhabited Elephant Island. Shackleton knew their only hope of survival was to try and reach South Georgia – another island that lay 800 miles away across the world’s stormiest, wildest ocean. Determined to save his men, Shackleton and two crew members set out in a twenty-three foot open wooden lifeboat, leaving the others behind to wait and to hope for their rescue.

Against all possible odds and looking death square in the eye every day, Sir Ernest Shackleton saved every one of Endurance’s men on August 30, 1916. His courage and the courage of his crew is not just an astonishing story but one of the greatest survival stories of all time.



Librarian’s Choice


Library: Jefferson County Public Library, 420 West Main St., Madison

Library Director: Mark Mellang

Children’s Librarian: Kara Pettey

Choices this week: “Owen and Mzee” by Isabella Hatkoff; “Heroes and She-roes” by J. Patrick Harris; “Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine, and a Miracle” by Major Brian Dennis



Books to Buy

The following books are available at favorite bookstores.

“The Whydah: A Pirate Ship Feared, Wrecked & Found” by Martin W. Sandler, photographs from various sources, Candlewick, 2017, 170 pages, $19.99 hardcover

Read aloud: age 10 and older.

Read yourself: age 11 – 12 and older.

Built in 1716, the Whydah was a fast, spacious sailing vessel capable of swiftly transporting large amounts of cargo; slaves and material goods. One of the most successful and feared pirates of the time, Black Sam Bellamy, overtook the Whydah in late February 1717, and its captain, Captain Prince, surrendered without a fight.

Bellamy and his crew not only captured the Whydah, but discovered its hold was loaded with vast goods worth a fortune. Using the Whydah as his flagship, Bellamy and his crew continued to capture and plunder more merchant ships, but on April 26, 1717, the Whydah, heavily laden with riches, encountered a ferocious storm, ran aground on sandbar off Cape Cod, and sank.

For almost three hundred years, the Whydah and its treasures lay undiscovered at the bottom of the ocean. Barry Clifford changed all of that when, in 1984, after exhaustive searching, he and his team of marine archaeologists found what they’d been searching for: the Whydah – the first sunken pirate ship ever to be found.

Fast-paced, thorough, and fascinating, this choice is certain to especially hold the interest of any pirate lover and treasure hunter.

“Balderdash! John Newbery and the Boisterous Birth of Children’s Books” by Michelle Markel, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter, Chronicle, 2017, 40 pages, $17.99 hardcover

Read aloud: age 5 – 8.

Read yourself: age 7 – 8.

In 1726, John Newbery was just a kid living in England. At that time, there were vast numbers of wonderful books for adults, but not fun books for kids.

John loved to read, and when he was old enough, he went to work for a printer and later became a publisher. John decided he wanted to publish fine books for all ages, including children. He began with wonderful little stories for kids, with some he included a toy, then progressed to a children’s magazine and then novels. Was John successful? “The children gobbled them up like plum cakes.”

This fun, fascinating story shows how a small, good idea can grow in more ways than one, and the prestigious Newbery Award is in honor of the father of children’s literature, John Newbery.



Nationally syndicated, Kendal Rautzhan writes and lectures on children’s literature. She can be reached at kendal@sunlink.net.