I wanted to share a few books in my reading pile right now. In that strange way that life has of throwing things in your path, again and again and again, until you wake up and take notice, these books follow on the theme of a recent post in which I wrote about the discovery of the Franklin expedition. Amongst other things from which I am separated by only a few degrees. (I could almost call this whole blog “Two Degrees of Separation”).
I’m not a cruise person, normally, but a trip on a scientifically minded small cruise ship traveling the Northwest Passage, complete with educational opportunities from experts in the field, sounds way to good to pass up. Imagine – wild Arctic animals like snowy owls, hares, and perhaps even polar bears, mountains, islands, inlets, icebergs, and whales. Imagine seeing the very places that history is made of. My mom and I have been talking about this for years, and have decided to make this happen next summer. (George, my dad, seems entirely uninterested in the idea. Probably because it’s cold up there.)
The first one I discovered while Christmas shopping for my god daughter ( and had to have for my own):
This lushly illustrated, so called children’s book by Matt James, has as its text a song by Stan Rogers, one of Canada’s favorite folk singers. Stan died way too young, back in 1983, but his music is well known, and his song The Northwest Passage is one of his most famous. Check out this link to hear the song. His rich voice makes me melt. (If you have time, also listen to Barrett’s Privateers. This song is my go to song when the going gets rough. I usually sing it to myself when portaging a canoe for instance. I think its the combination of swearing, and the act of having to recall the lyrics that helps pass the time. Plus portaging a canoe sounds like more fun than being a Barrett’s Privateer.)
Aside from the lyrics, there are lots of interesting details about the Franklin expedition, too many to list here. For instance, more that 40 expeditions followed, trying to discover the fate of the missing ships. And the point is well made that Franklin chose to ignore the knowledge of the locals when it came to local wisdom, navigation and survival, at his peril. (Unlike Amundsen, who finally discovered the Northwest Passage in 1903.) He even mentions the oral history supplied by the Inuit of King William Island, who recall seeing the frozen ships and the men, acting most strangely. (Gjoa Haven is on the east of King William Island, and I’ll be back up there next week, weather permitting.)
But what I love most is the illustrations. The animals are scientifically accurate, just what you might see in that part of the world.
So if you haven’t read, or purchased, a children’s book of late, isn’t it time you did so?
My mom, as it turns out, is also reading a book about the Northwest Passage:
In this book, acclaimed writer Kathleen Winter also travels the Northwest Passage, for her own reasons. And guess who happens to be on the ship with her? None other than Stan Rogers’ son Nathan, on a pilgrimage of his own. Can’t wait to get my hands on this book!