Monday, March 5, 2012

Nonfiction Monday: Into the Unknown: How great explorers found their way by land, sea, and air by Stewart Ross, illustrated by Stephen Biesty

If you love detailed maps, science, history, or adventure, this is the book for you.

In precise and evocative language, Ross tells the story of fourteen explorers and how they  navigated and traveled over vast distances, unknown lands, and into uncharted territory. The explorers are covered chronologically, one chapter to an explorer and include Pytheas the Greek's fabled journey to the Arctic Circle in 340 BC, Admiral Zheng He's crossing of the Indian Ocean in 1405, the Picard's journey to heights and depths in balloons and bathysphere, and finishes with the landing on the moon.
Each exploration has a separate chapter, packed with information about navigation, building of boats, balloons, and rockets, and stories of setbacks as well as successes.
This book doesn't cover a great deal of new ground on the subject of exploration, although it does add a few non-Western people and one woman. It's a good general overview of famous explorers with a few additions. The focus on how they accomplished their explorations is an interesting new perspective.
The presentation and design of the book is amazing. Each explorer has a chapter with backgrounds that looked like different kinds of paper or parchment and exquisitely detailed artwork. Fold-out sections show cross-sections of ships, and more details on maps, routes, engineering, and other factors in the accomplishment of these feats of exploration.

Verdict: While the fold-out sections may not last long in your library, this book is worth getting anyways for the amount of information packed into its brisk chapters. It's a great overall survey of the high points of exploration in history. I picked it up at random to show on a school visit and it enthralled 5th through 8th graders.

ISBN: 978-0-7636-49487; Published April 2011 by Candlewick; Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library


Perogyo said...

This does look fabulous!

I am right now stumbling through a Japanese book about envoys to China in the Heian period, and how they accidentally stopped with all the gifts of money on the tropical islands for 5 years instead of going on. :) I love adventure stories.

GatheringBooks said...

Hi Jean, this does sound like a book that I would love and enjoy. Thank you for sharing this and recommending it. Pinning this book as well in my Pinterest board. :)