Friday, February 23, 2024

An Antarctic Adventure

My favorite time of year to read about polar adventures is in the winter, when snow and sleet swirl around my house and my road resembles a sloped ice rink. That’s when I whip up a steaming mug of hot cocoa and sit by the window, reading about adventures in far off (and much colder) places.

This book doesn’t come out till March 5th, but I wanted to squeeze a review before spring thaw – just in case you want to go outside on a totally NOT-Antarctic-but-still-cold-and-snowy expedition

My Antarctica: True Adventures in the Land of Mummified Seals, Space Robots, and So Much More 
by G. Neri; illustrations by Corban Wilkin 
96 pages; ages 7-10
‎Candlewick, 2024

Themes: Antarctica, animals, adventure

When I was a kid, I dreamed of being an explorer. I hoped to trek to the Poles or dive into the Mariana Trench or rocket to the Moon one day.

Instead, Greg Neri grew up and started writing books for kids. Lots of books – and that unexpectedly landed him in Antarctica. He was (finally) an explorer!

This book is a fun, wonderfully illustrated scrapbook-like memoir of Neri’s expedition to Antarctica as one of three artists/writers to be awarded a National Science Foundation fellowship. Neri confesses that he wasn’t the best science student in school, but he wanted this opportunity to join the expedition and spend time around lots of scientists, all of whom “seemed to be looking for answers to life’s big questions.” He wanted to bring back stories and photos he could share with kids, adventures that might inspire them to explore science.

Neri, who lives in Florida, had a lot to learn, starting with how to dress. Fortunately, he got outfitted with the right gear – SO many layers! He introduces the scientific community living at McMurdo research station and what they’re working on: geology, plants and animals, outer space. His job: to follow different science teams into the field and learn about their research – and then try to explain it to kids.

Here's what I love about this book:
  • The front end papers show a map of Neri’s flight to Antarctica and a map of the ice shelf and landscape;
  • The mix of photos and Corban Wilkin’s annotated comics and illustrations .They not only show what the scientists are working on, but life at the South Pole;
  • The lists he makes (as you probably know by now, I am a list-maker!). His lists include things you won’t find in Antarctica, things you will find, vehicles found around the research station, critters living on the continent, the things people wear, and toilets. Yep, you heard right – toilets; and
  • Back matter, which includes an authors note, facts about Antarctica, books, websites, and other stuff curious folks will want to know.
Beyond the Book:

Fold an origami penguin. You need origami paper or gift wrap with one side that’s white. Here’s a video showing how to make one.

Go on your own expedition to Antarctica. You can start here

Print out 2-3 photos of what you might see if you visited Antarctica. Then add your own cartoon art and a bit of a story. 

You can check out the Antarctic Artists and Writers Collective here. They host events and exhibitions to celebrate Antarctica and have recordings archived on their website. They have a Facebook page, too.

Today we’re joining Perfect Picture Book Friday. It’s a wonderful gathering where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. On Monday we'll be hanging out at Marvelous Middle Grade Monday with other  bloggers. It's over at Greg Pattridge's blog, Always in the Middle, so hop over to see what other people are reading. Review copy provided by the publisher.


  1. I love this kind of peek into an artist's work. Candlewick makes great books!

  2. Oh my gosh! What a cool title and I love the journal pages you show. I really like your activities. What an awesome review, Sue. Thanks!

  3. It must have been a shock to go from Florida to Antarctic weather. This sounds like a cool book.

  4. The Antarctic is such an appealing topic for a non-fiction book. I agree with you that winter is the perfect time to read about polar adventures. Thanks for featuring your post on MMGM.

  5. I can't imagine going to Antarctica. I like the journal structure. I'll b

  6. Ack! I hit the wrong key. I was about to say I'll bet a lot of kids will be fascinated. Thanks for the review.

  7. Nice review and I agree with Rosi. A bunch of kids will now get to see Antarctica through Neri's eyes! Carol Baldwin

  8. Nice fellowship for a writer to be awarded (as long as you're ready for some low temperatures!). What a fantastic experience for him, and it sounds like he put it to great use. And the Antarctic is fascinating to read about, so great choice!

  9. Neri chose an Interesting topic the remote continent, Antarctica. Loved seeing the spreads. What a nice review.