North Review

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Think about how cold it gets in the winter in places like Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. It's so cold there in January that when you walk outside, the liquid in your eyes and nose freezes. Multiply that cold by two or three, add in a few polar bears, and you might start to get an idea of what Alvin is facing as he travels from Washington, D.C. towards Baffin Island in Canada. His goal is to follow the trail of his hero, African-American Arctic explorer Matthew Henson. Alvin doesn't have Henson's knowledge of the dangers of the Arctic, but he does have bravery, brains and a lot of luck.
He is rescued from a near-death experience by an Inuk man and ends up traveling across the Canadian Arctic in a dog sledge, eventually coming to live with a man named Idlouk Tana. Idlouk teaches Alvin how to live in the Arctic, complete with bear-fat cookies! Alvin returns home the following spring with a new sense of independence and appreciation for adventure.
Get ready for a cold, thrilling journey that takes Alvin to places where the sun only shines for an hour a day in the winter and seals are essential to survival. Life in the Arctic is harsh and even deadly, and Donna Jo Napoli makes it come to life with simple imagery that perfectly portrays, in Matthew Henson's words, the "fierce beauty" of the land there.
--- Reviewed by Carlie Webber

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