I just finished listening to the audiobook, The Impossible Rescue: the True Story of Amazing Arctic Adventure by Martin Sandler, read by Malcolm Hillgartner.
In 1897, winter blasted early, bringing storms and ice packs that caught eight American whale ships and three hundred sailors off guard. Their ships locked in ice, with no means of escape, the whalers had limited provisions on board, and little hope of surviving until warmer temperatures arrived many months later. Here is the incredible story of three men sent by President McKinley to rescue them. The mission? A perilous trek over 1,500 miles of nearly impassable Alaskan terrain, in the bone-chilling months of winter, to secure two herds of reindeer (for food) and find a way to guide them to the whalers before they starve. With the help of photographs and journal entries by one of the rescuers, Martin W. Sandler takes us on every step of their riveting journey, facing raging blizzards, killing cold, injured sled dogs, and setbacks to test the strongest of wills. -GoodreadsThis account of the incredible arctic adventure and rescue at the end of the nineteenth century is simply fascinating. It is so hard in the jet age in which we live to imagine this kind of rescue over land on dog sleds having any kind of chance of success. Yet it was successful against all odds and Sandler did a good job writing about it in this short, 176 page YA information book. It was just the right dose of information for me. I stayed interested as I followed the story, but never bogged down in too much back-story or details.
I think that is what is lovely about YA/Junior nonfiction works: digestible bits of information on fascinating subjects that you want to learn about but aren't interested in deep study on the subject.
In addition, authors of these YA nonfiction books are generally very good. They have to write very clearly and organize their text around good illustrations or photographs to keep their readers interested. That is why I keep buying them for my library even though many are advertised for younger readers. I disagree. These books are only good if someone reads them and learns something from them and that might be teens and even adults, like me and my husband!
Here is a list a some of these YA nonfiction books that I've read and recommend:
- Bomb: the race to build-and steal-the world's most dangerous weapon by Steve Sheinkin-winner of the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction this year.
- Moonbird: a year on the wind with the great survivor B95 by Philip Hoose. A worldwide community of bird-watchers and researchers come together to track the migration patterns of birds, and cheer the survival of a bird named B95.
- Truce: the day soldiers stopped fighting by Jim Murphy. Fighting on the Western Front during WWI ceases for Christmas day and soldiers come together.
- An American Plague: the true and terrifying story of the yellow fever epidemic in 1793 by Jim Murphy. This plague nearly killed some of our founding fathers in the opening days of our country.
- They Called Themselves the KKK: the birth of an American terrorist group by Susan Campbell Bartoletti.
- The Race to Save the Lord God Bird by Philip Hoose. Scientists attempted to rescue the Ivory Woodpecker before extinction. Their efforts were too late but the Audubon Society was formed.
- Hitler Youth: growing up in Hitler's shadow by Susan Campbell Bartoletti. A fascinating and disturbing look at the way Hitler brainwashed a generation of Germans.
- Janis Joplin: rise up singing by Ann Angel. Her life, her music, her death.