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Book Review – Race to the Frozen North by Catherine Johnson

Sep 30th 2020

This inspirational text tells the true story of Matthew Henson who achieved the unthinkable when he became the first man to reach the North Pole.

Race to the Frozen North by Catherine Johnson

Starting with his difficult upbringing, the book tells of his escape from a violent home life and his new life in the big city. While here he took work in a local restaurant before boarding a ship at the age of 12 and beginning his adventures. It was during this time that he learnt to read and write under the guidance of the ship’s captain.

A large part of the text describes in detail the numerous expeditions he took part in to reach the North Pole before finally being successful in 1909. As the blurb states this was done with ‘a little luck and a lot of hard work.’
Sadly, on return to the USA, Henson didn’t get the honour or recognition his achievements deserved. Eventually this was rectified and in his own words he knew that his mentor Captain Childs would have been proud of him.

This book is aimed at children 8 and above and is printed with Barrington Stoke’s dyslexia friendly font on buff coloured paper. It works brilliantly for discussions around hopes and dreams and nicely alongside ‘Young Gifted and Black: Meet 52 Black Heroes from Past and Present’ by Jamia Wilson.

Jacob told us that he found the book sad at times because of how Martin was treated and that it didn’t seem fair that he was ignored when he returned from the North Pole. He also said that the book has a good message though about believing in yourself and that your life can change if you work hard. He thinks others would enjoy finding out about Martin and the things he did and could be inspired by his story.
Thanks Jacob