The Impossible Rescue: The True Story of an Amazing Arctic Adventure

By: Martin W. Sandler

1897: To save hundreds of whalers trapped by ice floes, three men attempted the impossible—trekking 1,500 miles through the Alaskan wilderness, in winter. “What Happened to Them,” recounting the future of the book’s major players. Time line. Source notes. Bibliography. Index. Maps. Reproductions of historical documents. Black-and-white photographs.

ISBN: 9780763650803

JLG Release: Sep 2012


Sensitive Areas: Violence: Strong Violence, Violence: Suicide
Topics: The Bear , Overland Relief Expedition (1897-1898) , Whaling ships , Accidents , Alaska , Nineteenth-century history , Whaling , Reindeer , Rescues , Point Barrow, Alaska

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Awards & Honors

Kirkus Reviews Best Children’s Book of 2012; SLJ Best Children’s Books 2012, Nonfiction; NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People 2013, History/Life & Culture in the Americas

Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

Booklist*, The Horn Book Magazine, Kirkus Reviews*, Publishers Weekly*, School Library Journal*

School Library Journal

[STARRED REVIEW]
Endurance. Fortitude. Bravery. Any of these words could easily describe the people involved in this amazing, but little-known rescue-adventure. The year was 1897 and whaling was big business in America. Whaleship captains hunting in the Arctic Circle, pushing for more whales and the profits they meant, ended up stranded
[STARRED REVIEW]
Endurance. Fortitude. Bravery. Any of these words could easily describe the people involved in this amazing, but little-known rescue-adventure. The year was 1897 and whaling was big business in America. Whaleship captains hunting in the Arctic Circle, pushing for more whales and the profits they meant, ended up stranded by the ice pack, affecting eight ships and their crews. One ship managed to escape the danger and alert the U.S. government to the predicament, thus setting in motion a nearly “impossible rescue.” A few daring men with the experience and willingness to tackle such a mission quickly gathered their supplies and courage and headed north to bring food in the form of herded reindeer and help to some 300 sailors stuck in the Arctic winter. Using extensive primary sources in the form of journals, reports, letters, and photographs, Sandler has pieced together a stirring and evocative retelling of this historical adventure. The writing draws readers into both the suspense of reaching the struggling whalers in time as well as the dire, life-threatening conditions that the rescuers themselves faced. Archival black-and-white photographs taken during the journey help pull the whole story together and prove an excellent visual accompaniment to the unfolding drama. An epilogue answers many of the “what happened after . . .” questions, and extensive source notes round out the back matter. For readers who prefer their drama to be true, suggest this title along with Jennifer Armstrong’s Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World (Crown, 1998), Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air (Villard, 1997), and Dolores Johnson’s Onward: a Photobiography of African-American Polar Explorer Matthew Henson (National Geographic, 2005).—Jody Kopple, Shady Hill School, Cambridge, MA

Horn Book

When the ice arrived unusually early in September 1897, eight whaling ships were trapped in the Arctic Ocean in the vicinity of Barrow, Alaska. Fortunately, an outgoing vessel carried news of the ships’ fate to San Francisco, where a daring rescue plan was authorized by President McKinley and carried out by three brave members of what would e When the ice arrived unusually early in September 1897, eight whaling ships were trapped in the Arctic Ocean in the vicinity of Barrow, Alaska. Fortunately, an outgoing vessel carried news of the ships’ fate to San Francisco, where a daring rescue plan was authorized by President McKinley and carried out by three brave members of what would eventually become the Coast Guard. The narrative alternates between the demoralized and desperate whalers, trapped in their vessels or in makeshift lodgings in town; the rescue boat, kept ashore by the rapidly advancing ice; and the rescue party of three, forced to split up during their hazardous overland trek in order to marshal the necessary resources (first, sled dogs for transportation; then the reindeer herds that would sustain the whalers with food and clothing). Sandler uses primary sources liberally, both textual accounts of the rescue as well as black-and-white photographs taken by the rescue mission’s doctor. A spirited adventure tale in the mold of Jennifer Armstrong’s Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World (rev. 7/99), this thorough and deliberate account is enhanced by appended information that includes maps, a timeline, notes, sources, a “what happened to them” section, a bibliography, and an index.

Junior Library Guild

  • A gripping high-stakes account of life literally hanging in the balance. This nonfiction portrayal of men brazening through the untamed wilderness is as engrossing as any Jack London novel.
  • Full of fascinating details about Arctic life and survival, often via direct quotations from those who lived through the experience: “&
    • A gripping high-stakes account of life literally hanging in the balance. This nonfiction portrayal of men brazening through the untamed wilderness is as engrossing as any Jack London novel.
    • Full of fascinating details about Arctic life and survival, often via direct quotations from those who lived through the experience: “‘Once, in helping the sled over a particularly bad place, I was thrown 8 or 9 feet down a slide, landing on the back of my head with the sled on top of me. Though the mercury was −30°, I was wet through with perspiration from the . . . work.’”
    • Abundant period photographs highlight the harsh conditions the rescuers faced, making the story that much more tangible.
    • Readers will want to learn more about memorable historical figures—including Ned McIlhenny, an adventurer, naturalist, and heir of the Tabasco hot sauce company—who were involved in the mission.

Book Details

ISBN

9780763650803

First Release

September 2012

Genre

Dewey Classification

979.803

Trim Size

9 1/16" x 9 13/16"

Page Count

176

Accelerated Reader

Level 8.2; Points: 8;

Scholastic Reading Counts

Level 10.9; Points: 11;

Lexile

Level 1270L

Format

Print Book

Edition

Hardcover edition

Publisher

Candlewick

Potentially Sensitive Areas

Violence: Strong Violence, Violence: Suicide

Topics

The Bear, Overland Relief Expedition (1897-1898), Whaling ships, Accidents, Alaska, Nineteenth-century history, Whaling, Reindeer, Rescues, Point Barrow, Alaska,

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