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Shipwreck at the bottom of the world : the…

Shipwreck at the bottom of the world : the extraordinary true story of… (original 1998; edition 1998)

by Jennifer Armstrong

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45910622,476 (4.16)4
Title:Shipwreck at the bottom of the world : the extraordinary true story of Shackleton and the Endurance
Authors:Jennifer Armstrong
Info:New York : Crown, c1998.
Collections:Your library
Tags:nonfiction, Ages 8 and up, 134 pages, 1998, Shackleton, adventure, Endurance, Antarctica, photojournalism

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Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World: The Extraordinary True Story of Shackleton and the Endurance by Jennifer Armstrong (1998)




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When discussing the exploration of the world, we often only glance over places like Antarctica, mentioning only the first to reach the South Pole. Yet there is so much more to be learned about the remote continent at the bottom of the world. I had heard the name Ernest Shackleton before, but only in passing, never knowing of his heroic voyage to explore Antarctica.

This book takes his harrowing journey and presents it in entertaining adventure story format. I could not put the book down until I was finished, always wondering what happened next to those poor souls trapped on the ice. The book presents Sir Shackleton as the competent leader that we all desire in dire situations. He presents a good example for the youth of today, showing perception, patience, and critical thinking in one of the most stressful situations imaginable.

Not only did this book present an entertaining story, it provided a great amount of information about the continent of Antarctica. The author gave us details on the climate there, and how it affects the world as a whole. She also gives us information on the many species that inhabit such a harsh land.

The Social Studies applications of this text include history and geography, presenting an in depth look at a period of time often over shadowed by World War I itself. On top of that it gives us a good look at a continent that is also overlooked in geography classes. I gave this book to a Geography teacher, hoping she can make use of it to present some information on Antarctica in her class that may never get to it in their textbooks.

There are Environmental Science and Biology applications for this book as well. Discussing the climate there and its effect on the world climate, especially hurricane formation would offer at least one class period worth of topics. A summary and discussion of the wildlife of Antarctica could open students to a wider variety of life forms and habitats, including many sub-species they did not know exist. The vast variety of Penguins, Seals, and Whales are astounding, not to mention how many different sea and cold weather birds are mentioned. ( )
  BJPetrie | Apr 21, 2014 |
I loved this book! It took me a bit longer to read it than I had anticipated, but I found that it was very compelling and suspenseful throughout. I thought the access features were for the most part really well done, though I would have been interested in seeing a variety of other primary sources/ documents if they were available in addition to the photographs.

Of course, the realities of the brutal conditions in the Antarctic were a little tough to swallow with all the penguin, seal and dog killings and it made me wonder more about what was the true purpose of the expedition?

I would've liked to know more specifically about what real knowledge was gained from this expedition to make the trip worth it-- what did the scientists discover that they didn't know before? Or was this more a tale of some sailor dudes who wanted to see if they could do it just to say they did?

I'm curious to compare the knowledge gained back then versus what we continue to gain now with greater technologies? I think this is a great book because it generates so many questions. I could envision using the book as a jumping off point with students to identify research questions to further explore.
As a teacher I'm also wondering what other books are out there like this about other explorers-- could the class be split into a few groups each assigned to a different explorer in history? ( )
  Sandert1 | Apr 18, 2014 |
I really thought I would like this book more than I did. The opening pages were intriguing. I liked the addition of the photograph of the members of the expedition and the maps. The opening sentence really drew me into the book: "Just imagine yourself in the most hostile place on earth. It's not the Sahara or the Gobi Desert." Shackleton's expedition to the Antarctic was an amazing story of perseverance, courage, friendship, and leadership. These are all very important themes that would trigger interesting discussions. I really found it fascinating; however, I also felt overwhelmed by all the information the author included in the story. The historical photographs and addition of quotes helped to add human interest to the account, but I wonder if all the details were really necessary. The author obviously did a lot of research on the topic and was enthusiastic about her subject. The bibliography is varied and covers many aspects of the expedition. When I searched for other books by the author, I noticed this was one of her first books (she has written many fiction and some nonfiction books since).She has another book called "Spirit of Endurance" that I would like to read; it was published in 2000. I am curious to see what information from the Shipwreck book that she omitted in this children's version of the Shackleton's journey. Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World is written for middle and upper school students and not for elementary students. The pictures are accessible and some of the text, but it is too dense with information for younger students. Although I would not use this book in my social studies classroom, I might be able to use the version she wrote for younger students. I will try to find it in the library or bookstore. It is an amazing story of survival. ( )
  SuPendleton | Apr 17, 2014 |
I cannot say that I liked this book, but I also cannot say that it was through any fault of the author; in fact, Jennifer Armstrong's powers of description put me in a place, as a reader, that I didn't want to be. She stranded me in an Antarctic no man's land with 28 brave, capable, scared, and desolate men. Although the book's cover gives away the fact the the men all make it out alive, it is so hard to believe that one almost forgets that they make it. The journey starts out harrowing enough in their ship, but when the ship gets crunched up between ice floes and they have to camp out in the elements it is almost unimaginable what the men survived. I say almost because Armstrong allows the reader to imagine it quite well, in fact forces the reader to, with her detailed descriptions and agile storytelling. She fills in the blanks just right. For instance, in the chapter "Mutiny," Armstrong prefaces the story of how Shackleton dealt with some resistance to his leadership with the story of a famous mutiny of an expedition lead by Sir John Franklin, and the "insanity, desertion, [and] cannibalism" that took place (62). She mentions how there was a book pertaining to a rescue mission for those men, and that the men of the Endurance would have known the stories of the ill-fated crew. This sets up the suspense perfectly, because we realize what could be at stake if a mutiny did indeed take place, and we also get insight into what Shackleton may have been thinking when he tried to avert it.

With respect to the detail that Armstrong includes,she describes all aspects of the natural world around the men, many details of their actions and challenges, and even their thoughts and fears when possible. This book feels like a complete story. Armstrong clearly researched this book very thoroughly, and the photographs add so much as well. They fill in the rest of the blanks. I lay curled up in my comfortable chair reading this book, but feeling none of the comforts of my room temperature cozy home. My toes ached from frostbite. I was afraid and disgusted and hopeful and on edge. I waited for killer whales to find me and despaired at being away from civilization for so long. By the end of the book I was spent. It was almost too much. I wanted to stop reading about halfway through, as every harrowing detail of the journey is told here, and readers, it turns out, can get PTSD from a book. So Armstrong did a wonderful job; she took me there. I just didn't want to go. ( )
  Melissalorio | Apr 14, 2014 |
SHIPWRECK AT THE BOTTOM OF THE WORLD by Jennifer Armstrong is an amazing story of Sir Ernest Shackleton and his crew on the Endurance Expedition from 1914-1916 to Antarctica. The book has amazing pictures, maps showing the expedition and diagrams of the Endurance. There are pictures of all of the members of the crew including the stowaway, Percy Blackborrow. The detail and explanation of the harrowing journey helps the readers feel they are with the crew. The explanation of navigating was detailed and amazing when realizing this was in 1914. This is a book I would have difficulty using the entire book in my Religion classroom, but I feel it could be used in a classroom. It is a perfect book for integrating several subjects. With that in mind, I could use the aspect of when Shackleton, Worsley, and Crean were traveling across South Georgia Island and kept feeling the presence of a fourth person, from page 110. This would provide an opportunity to discuss if students felt the men were hallucinating or was it a spiritual presence. Surely discussing the men's determination and perseverance and then talking about times we have had to use those traits would be beneficial for all. Teachers collaborating on such a theme could develop even more aspects to integrate. ( )
  dscalia | Apr 13, 2014 |
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For Jim: I'd go to the ends of the earth for you.
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Just imagine yourself in the most hostile place on earth.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375810498, Paperback)

The harrowing survival story of English explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton and the ill-fated Endurance has intrigued people since the 1914 expedition--spurring astounding books such as Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage and The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition. As Shackleton and 27 sailors attempted to cross the frozen Antarctic continent from one side to the other, they were trapped in an ice pack, lost their ship to the icy depths, survived an Antarctic winter, escaped attacks from sea lions, and traversed 600 treacherous miles to the uninhabited Elephant Island. Leaving 22 men behind, Shackleton and five others sailed 800 miles across the southern Atlantic Ocean in a 20-foot open boat to tiny South George Island, where they hiked across unmapped mountains to a whaling station. In 1916, 19 months after the Endurance became icebound, Shackleton led a rescue party back to retrieve his men. Remarkably, every crew member survived.

Jennifer Armstrong, the award-winning author of Black-Eyed Susan and The Dreams of Mairhe Mehan, brings the unbelievable journey to life with delicious details: how a handsome young stowaway was discovered too late to cast him off; how the ship itself would become frost-white, looking like "another species of sparkling white iceberg as it nosed its way through the pack;" and how the ice-pack-dwelling Emperor penguins seemed to enjoy the banjo music of crew member Leonard Hussey. The true-to-life story is as thrilling as they come, and Armstrong's lively, crystal-clear writing style is just as compelling. More than 40 photographs of the expedition populate this inspiring nonfiction adventure story that young readers will devour from cover to cover. (Ages 10 to 14) --Karin Snelson

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:35:07 -0400)

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"Describes the events of the 1914 Shackleton Antarctic expedition when, after being trapped in a frozen sea for nine months, their ship, Endurance, was finally crushed, forcing Shackleton and his men to make a very long and perilous journey across ice and stormy seas to reach inhabited land."… (more)

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