Award-Winning Books Nomads Homes and Habitats: Restlessness and Refuge Non-fiction Wednesday Nonfiction Picture Books Reading Themes

[Nonfiction Wednesday] A Death-Defying and Life Affirming Quest of a Lifetime in “Shackleton’s Journey” by William Grill

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Myra here.

We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2016 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year.


I have been seeing this book shared for quite awhile now by fellow book enthusiasts, but I was waiting for the perfect time that it will speak to me. Given our current reading theme: Nomads, Homes and Habitats: Restless and Refuge in Literature – this seems like the absolute perfect book to share.


Shackleton’s Journey

Written and Illustrated by: William Grill
Published by: Flying Eye Books, 2014 ISBN: 1909263109 (ISBN13: 9781909263109) Book Awards: Winner of the 2015 Kate Greenaway Medal,
A New York Times Best Illustrated Book of 2014

Borrowed from the NIE Library. Book photos taken by me.

I didn’t know about Ernest Shackleton until I saw this book circulating and being featured by fellow book bloggers. Think of this as a primer to Shackleton’s death-defying journey to cross the vast south polar continent, Antarctica on 8 August 1914 – the very first of its kind in this part of the world.


I do think it takes a certain type of character to be able to pull something like this off – talk about uncharted territory, sub-zero temperatures, possibility of not surviving the journey all but certain.


The name of their ship was Endurance – an apt name, really. The crew needed a lot of that, and tenacity besides, and good humour, and a firm grip on life to enable them to go where no man had gone before literally.


I like how the text took a back seat in this story with the art really standing out with a lot of blank spaces for the eyes to rest. The text was sufficient to make the reader have an understanding of what the crew was going through, but not so much that it overwhelms the reader. In fact, if anything, it serves as a sort of teaser, inviting the curious reader to find a documentary or to look for longer books that would fill in the gaps that this story could not very well provide by virtue of space constraints.


I think the strength of the book lies in its masterful design as well as providing perspective through the art, allowing the reader to feel the vastness of the sea, it seems practically infinite. I felt a sense of despair and hopelessness, really just looking at this image:


A teacher-student of mine who did a report on this book, however, stated that he felt the book did not do the story justice and was sorely lacking in a number of respects. But this is because he has already watched the documentary a few years back and knew the story intimately. He felt that there were details that were not captured in the story. For a beginner, however, I felt that it was just right.

I also found this 26-minute Youtube Clip by the National Geographic Creative that provides moving visuals to this amazing journey of a lifetime. Enjoy!

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Singapore. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she serves as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads or meeting up with her book club friends, she is smashing that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life.

3 comments on “[Nonfiction Wednesday] A Death-Defying and Life Affirming Quest of a Lifetime in “Shackleton’s Journey” by William Grill

  1. When I was growing up I was fascinated by explorers, particularly Antarctic explorers like Shackleton, Scott and Amundsen – the thought of exploring somewhere and being the first person to accomplish something just seemed so exciting. I can see why kids would be fascinated by stories like Shackleton’s – they just seem like something out of a film, too dramatic to be real!


  2. That’s a neat book! 😀 I really like how it handles the topic! 😀


  3. I had checked this out from the beautiful and it is a beautiful book. Didn’t get around to reading it though.


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