Friday, September 14, 2012

Review: The Impossible Rescue

The Impossible Rescue: The True Story of an Amazing Arctic Adventure
By Martin W. Sandler
Expected publication September 11, 2012 by Candlewick

In 1897, whaling was a money-making career. It was also incredibly dangerous. Winter came early that year and a number of whaling ships became trapped in the ice, leaving the men aboard desperate for rescue. Seeing this perilous situation, President McKinley dispatched three men on a harrowing rescue mission, over 1500 miles of rough Alaskan terrain.

I received a review copy of this book from the publisher while attending School Library Journal's SummerTeen event and figured I'd give it a shot. I don't read a ton of non-fiction, but I always want to, and this sounded like it had potential to be a gripping read. Unfortunately, it wasn't exactly as thrilling as I expected. The story of the rescue is well-told, and there are a number of moments when it really hit me how dangerous this mission was and how difficult an undertaking this would have been over a hundred years ago. But the action of the rescue sometimes gets bogged down in details - all of it relevant, but it does take away from the mission a bit. It just made me wonder if kids would wade through all the details to get to the meat of the story - which is actually really amazing. I think kids who gravitate toward non-fiction and those looking for an adventure story could certainly do worse than picking up this book. It is, overall, a fascinating and kind of scary story about the amazing lengths undergone to rescue the whalers. The pictures are well-chosen, highlighting the people involved in the rescue and providing stark images of the ruggedness of the country that the men were traveling through. I really enjoyed the "what happened next" section at the end, providing information on what became of the key players after the rescue mission. My advance copy did not have photograph sources or an index, but did provide bibliographic info and the space was left to include the other bits of back matter before publication. All in all, I think this is a well-written account of a daring historical rescue that kids looking for an adventure story will be amazed to discover actually happened.

Thanks to the publisher for a digital advance reader's copy provided via NetGalley.

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