Andrea White was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, but has spent most of her life in Houston, Texas. She received both undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Texas. She has had several short stories published; this is her first book. Besides writing, Ms. White is a community volunteer and education activist. She is married to Bill White, formerly an energy official in the Clinton administration and now the mayor of Houston. The Whites have three children: Will, Elena, and Stephen. They love to hike and camp, and although they've had some hair-raising adventures, says Ms. White, all were tame compared to what happens in Surviving Antarctica.
Politics and pop culture collide in White's provocative debut novel, a dystopian view of America in which 14-year-olds must win a game of chance called "Toss" in order to continue their education, and environmental disasters and overpopulation have scarred the country. The Department of Entertainment controls all television, with the goal of attaining 100% viewership-the resulting complacency keeps down the nation's crime rate. Stephen Michael, now 17, lost his Toss, but he has managed to land a job editing the latest incarnation of the popular Historical Survivor series (a reality show), in which five 14-year-olds will retrace the steps of Robert F. Scott's failed 1912 expedition to reach the South Pole. Robert, Billy, Polly, Andrew and Grace are chosen for their specific abilities: Polly for her photographic memory, for instance, and Andrew for his tolerance of the cold. Thanks to his position, Stephen is able to communicate with Andrew and tries to help the children on their trek (the Secretary of Entertainment has planned several "calamities" to make for better TV). White paints a vision of a government-driven, TV-obsessed future that hits close to home, and also interweaves facts about Scott's mission from primary sources (through Polly's research). This page-turning adventure may well pry a few of today's couch potatoes away from the TV. Ages 12-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Gr 6-10-In 2083, all education in the United States is conducted through television. Shows re-creating historical events like the Battle of the Alamo are used to teach history, and also to give losers in the educational dice roll a chance to earn fame and money. The Secretary of Entertainment, worried about falling ratings, has come up with a splendid idea-re-create Robert F. Scott's 1912 expedition to the South Pole, using 14-year-old kids, most of whom have never even experienced snow. And make sure they are completely isolated by implanting tiny digital cameras directly into their corneas, thus avoiding the need for pesky camera crews who might interfere with the drama. The five participants are the usual band of misfits, including Grace, an I-upiat Eskimo transplanted to Arizona after Alaska is turned into a nuclear waste dump, and Billy, who desperately wants to be voted MVP, but hides snack food from his starving companions. There's also Polly, who has an amazing memory and a surprising capacity for leadership; Robert, great with engines and sheer determination; and Andrew, searching for his special talent and finding unexpected depths of courage. Back in the television studio, a few brave employees surreptitiously help the kids and try to figure out a way to stop the madness. Brisk action, interesting characters, and intriguing (sometimes gruesome) details make this a compelling story, while television's pervasive presence in our lives and the undeniable popularity of the "reality" format give a rather frightening timeliness and believability to the tale.-Mara Alpert, Los Angeles Public Library Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.