CAROLE BOSTON WEATHERFORD is the award-winning author of 19 books of poetry, nonfiction and children's literature. She resides in High Point, N.C., with her husband, Ronald, and their children, Caresse and Jeffrey. She is the author of Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom, which won a Caldecott Honor. www.caroleweatherford.com
ERIC VELASQUEZ won the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award for The Piano Man. He is a graduate of the School of Visual Arts and lives in Hartsdale, New York. www.ericvelasquez.com
Gr 2-5-This picture-book account of the explorer's life and accomplishments begins when the 13-year-old orphan signed on as cabin boy on the Katie Hines. After his captain died, no one would hire a black crewman, so he became a stock boy in a store where a chance meeting with Robert Peary changed the course of his life. Henson was hired as his assistant and together they made seven trips to the Arctic between the years 1891 and 1909. The book reveals the extreme hardships they faced: frigid cold, frozen waters, frostbite, harsh winds, and lack of food or funds. The capable assistant would save Peary's life twice, befriend the Inuit and learn their language, and intuitively lead the team to their destination when faulty instruments had failed them. Using sparse, poetic language, Weatherford tells Henson's story in the first person, beginning each page of text in a similar manner. The form effectively captures the subject's determination: "I did not start as cabin boy, climb the ranks to able-bodied seaman, sail to five continents, and learn trades and foreign tongues to be shunned by white crews." An author's note provides more biographical information. The mostly full-spread pastel illustrations use a palette of white, gray, pale blue, and brown to show the vast, icy landscape. Powerful words and images make this an excellent choice for units on explorers or African Americans.-Barbara Auerbach, New York City Public Schools Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.