CM . . .
. Volume XV Number 10. . . .January 9, 2009
Told in lyrical first-person statements, this picture-book biography introduces readers to North Pole explorer Matthew Henson. As an adventure-seeking 13-year-old orphan, he worked as a cabin boy on the Katie Hines. He quickly climbed the ranks to seaman, but when his captain died, no other crew would hire him, believing "blacks were not seaworthy." While working as a stock boy in a men's store, he met a naval officer looking for a manservant for an expedition to Nicaragua. This chance meeting with Robert Peary changed Matthew's life. Together they made history in 1909 as the first to plant their flag on the North Pole.
Each eight-line stanza conveys Henson's determination and courage. The language is passionate and poetic: "My dreams had sails." In addition to possessing tremendous survival skills, Henson was also adept at learning many languages, including Inuit. Even when facing starvation and injury, he remained resolute: "I did not sail north with Peary again and again/ through the frozen sea, charting/ the ice cap, inching toward the Pole, /where no man had stood, /for frostbite to halt our mission./ When ice took most of Peary's toes,/ I carried him back alive."
Linda Ludke is a librarian in London, ON.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal
use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any
other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.