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Berton, Pierre
Illustrated by Paul McCusker Toronto, McClelland & Stewart, 1992. 92pp, paper, $5.99, ISBN 0-7710-1435-X. (Exploring the Frozen North) (Adventures in Canadian History). CIP

Grades 6 to 8/Ages 11 to 13

Reviewed by Hugh A. Cook

Volume 20 Number 5
1992 October

This is Berton's second book in the mini-series "Exploring the Frozen North." His first story was on one of the earliest explorers of the Arctic, Edward Parry, while this is the story of one of the last British explorers of this time period, John Franklin. Parry was one of the best navigators and captains to search for the Northwest Passage. Franklin was probably one of the poorest but he was persistent.

Because of his determination to make an honourable name for himself and to please his wife Jane, John Franklin undertook a difficult last voyage when he should have retired and allowed one of lesser years and more vigour to continue the search. Franklin came close to discovering the passage but it was, tragically, his death which led to the final mapping of the bleak and cold north.

When Franklin did not return from his last exploration in the time allotted, Jane Franklin persuaded the British government and the navy to send out a large number of other ships to search for her husband and his crew. With threats, petitions, adverse publicity, and friends in the right places, Jane eventually forced the navy to send out enough explorations that almost the entire northern coastline of Canada became mapped before the probable cause of her husband's death became known.

While it is the story of John Franklin that is written in the history books, it becomes obvious from Pierre Berton's writing that the discovery of the Northwest Passage became a reality because of Jane Franklin's determination to locate her husband, A table of contents, an index and black-and-white illustrations enhance this story's usefulness as a research publication.

An excellent book for the arctic exploration section of a middle school library.

Hugh A. Cook is a former elementary school librarian in Maple, Ontario

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