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Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World


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About the Author

Ever since the first grade, Jennifer Armstrong knew that she would become an author. She loved making up stories and sharing them with others. Her family treasured books and this led her to become an avid reader of all types of fiction. It was no surprise when she chose to study English and American Literature at Smith College in Massachusetts.

Armstrong is the author of over 50 books for children from kindergarten through high school. Best known for writing historical fiction, she has also been successful in
creating picture books, easy readers, chapter books, young adult novels, as well as nonfiction.

Armstrong, who grew up outside of New York City, now lives in Saratoga Springs, New York.

Jennifer Armstrong is the winner of the Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World. Many of her books have been designated as Notable Books by the American Library Association and the International Reading Association.

For more information on Jennifer Armstrong, visit her website at, or read her blog at

From the Hardcover Library Binding edition.


Gr 6 Up-When their ship, Endurance, became icebound in Antarctica and sank in 1914, Sir Ernest Shackleton and his 27 crewmen were 100 miles from land. Unbelievably, they all survived. At first, the men played on the ice to kill time, but after Endurance sank, they took to their life boats, and spent a year and a half traveling over ice, water, and mountains to reach safety. Taylor Mali's narration of the book by Jennifer Armstrong (Crown, 1998) is riveting, and his shifts from one accent to the next are effective and not at all distracting. The text moves from diary entries to explanations of how to read the sun, and the descriptions of the terrain and weather are superb. This is a very effective presentation of not only how the disaster occurred, but of the toll it took on the crew and how they rose to the challenge.- Christine Moesch, Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, NY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

"A book that will capture the attention and imagination of any reader."
--School Library Journal, Starred

"This unbelievable story is enhanced by the vigorous prose; from the captivating introduction through the epilogue, it is the writing as much as the story that will rivet readers."
--Kirkus Reviews, Pointer "Armstrong's absorbing storytelling, illustrated with dramatic black-and-white photographs, makes this an enthralling adventure."
--Publishers Weekly, Starred

Endurance is the fitting name British explorer Ernest Shackleton gave to the ship that left England in 1914 with a crew of 27, transporting what he anticipated to be the first expedition to cross the entire continent of Antarctica. It is also a fitting characterization for the struggle of the men described in this tale, a true story of survival against incredible odds. The crew of the ship (which sank a year and three months into their journey) went on to spend an Antarctic winter camping on ice floes, battling sub-zero temperatures and frostbite, dehydration and diarrhea, insomnia, boredom and‘perhaps most dangerous of all‘despair. Even while describing the months of inactivity, as the explorers drift along on ice floes, waiting to reach open water, Armstrong (The Dreams of Mairhe Mehan) keeps her narrative moving at a brisk pace. A generous supply of colorful anecdotes (e.g., Hussey, the meteorologist, "serenades the passing wildlife with his banjo") and excerpts from journals (one crewman described the ice-locked Endurance as being stuck "like an almond in the middle of a chocolate bar") shed light on the men's personalities and reveal Shackleton's remarkable skill for keeping his crew agreeable and hopeful, despite life-threatening conditions. Other passages‘as when a floe on which the crew is camping suddenly cracks in two and one mate, still asleep, falls into the icy water‘possess heart-pounding immediacy. Armstrong's absorbing storytelling, illustrated with dramatic black-and-white photographs, make this an enthralling adventure. Ages 10-13. (Jan.)

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