Reading List

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 Erebus and The Terror

The first one I discovered while Christmas shopping for my god daughter ( and had to have for my own):

IMG_4673This 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.)


A sad end for the explorers

A sad end for the explorers

But what I love most is the illustrations.  The animals are scientifically accurate, just what you might see in that part of the world.

The beautiful Snowy Owl

The beautiful Snowy Owl

The Arctic Hare, with its winter coat

The Arctic Hare, with its winter coat

Polar Bear

Polar Bear

And my favorite, the Narwhal

And my favorite, the Narwhal, who really do seem to smile

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:

IMG_4675In 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!

About Tandi

I love my morning coffee, reading, the wilderness, paddling, poetry, my Spanish husband, and being a doctor. I also love writing my blog, and reading yours.
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10 Responses to Reading List

  1. shoreacres says:

    Erebus! There’s a name that resonates! No wonder you liked the poem.

    I haven’t purchased a children’s book in ages, but I intend to remedy that little omission with this one. The illustrations are marvelous, and the idea of basing the book on Stan Roger’s lyrics is splendid. I was introduced to Rogers after I posted about Gordon Bok. This song of his has been my go-to-for-tough-times song for years. The video with it charms the sailor in me. I weary of over-produced pieces, and this one struck me as just right.

    What an adventure for you and your Mom. When we were sailing Glacier Bay, we came upon one of those small cruise ships. I’ve always lumped cruise ships together with Las Vegas and Disney-whatevers as Dante’s new circles of hell, but that ship, apart from being quite small, moved slowly, paused often, and seemed not at all obtrusive. Add lectures, and a nice mix of people interested in the same things, and I think it would be great.

    It occurs to me I should follow your reading list. It would make following your adventure ever so much more interesting.

    • Tandi says:

      Hi Linda,

      Yes, I think that poem was written about Franklin’s ship. I thought that was part of why you sent it to me. It really helped me to imagine what that experience might have been like, on the deck of that ship. What a crazy lonely experience, to sail off into the unknown. I can’t imagine.

      I love that you are purchasing the book. Do let me know what you think. And my mom is loving the other book too, and tells me I will really enjoy it. I’ll let you know!

  2. Shoreacres caught you first! I’m ordering the book too. I’m not familiar with stan Rogers, but I’m GOING to be soon! Thanks for the suggestion Tandi.

    • Tandi says:

      I’m excited for you – both to hear Stan, and to get the book. Do let me know what you think.

      I never saw Stan Rogers play, but I did hear his brother Garnet play a few times, and that was a treat too.

  3. Valerie & Wally Brodie says:

    Hi Tandi, I just had to reply to the latest blog. Val and I find all the ones you have sent are so so interesting.Most definitely you should compile them all into a book. I have no doubtit would make great reading. Hard to say which episode is my favorite,they are all excellent. I only wish I would have had the chance to see all that you see. No doubt there are times when you wonder what you are doing up there in the frozen (at times) north,but you will cherish the memories for ever.

    Thanks for sharing these experiences with us.

    Wally and Val Brodie.

    • Tandi says:

      Hi Val and Wally,

      Thanks so much for taking the time to write, and for your encouragement. It means a lot to me to hear that you have enjoyed the blog. You are right, at times we do wonder what we are doing, ( like now, when its been -30 something already. The first cold weather always seems unbearably cold, until we get a bit used to it. This year I’m wondering if I will…) But its been as well the adventure of a lifetime, and we wouldn’t have missed it for the world. We have been so incredibly fortunate to have had the chance to do and see it all.

  4. Kyle Kelly says:

    You may wish to consider North to the Night: A Spiritual Odyssey in the Arctic written by Alvah Simon. The author sails to Bylot Island north of Baffin Island and overwinters in his sailboat. Its a powerful story of survival and the effects of isolation and darkness on mental health. The other suggestion is Discovery of Strangers by Rudy Wiebe. It captures the contact between Frankllin and the Dene people during the period of 1891-1821. The story centres around Fort Enterprise on Winter Lake east of Wekweeti.

    • Tandi says:

      Thanks for these suggestions. North to the Night is on of my very favorite adventure stories. I’ve heard of Discovery of Strangers but didnt know what it was about. I will certainly seek it out. Thanks! I would love any other suggestions you might have.

  5. Those really are such charming illustrations.

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