Sunday, June 19, 2011
Review: Can You Survive Antarctica? by Rachael Hanel
I've taught teenagers about
Antarctica and finding appropriate and interesting resources for the students to develop their knowledge outside of the classroom is difficult. Can You Survive Antarctica? is set to change all this. It is an 'interactive book', which means that children and teenagers can choose their own path through the book by reading different pages, leading to different endings. It adds an element of fun and game play, which hopefully will encourage them to continue reading. There are three paths "early explorer", "modern day adventure" and "living and working in Antarctica". All paths combine aspects of history and geography, and often include elements of science and survival skills.
The book begins with a general chapter discussing what
Antarctica is like, with key geographical facts such as average temperatures which makes this book an excellent source of information for project work/homework. It then asks the students to choose which path they would like to follow. The story like style of the book, and the elements of danger, will distract children from the fact that it is a non-fiction book. Offering choices, such as the choice between the better equipped Scott expedition or the more experienced Amundsen expedition, helps promote students problem-solving and critical thinking skills. After finishing all three paths, readers will have a well-rounded knowledge of the history and geography of Antarctica, and what life is like living there.
The layout of the book is clean and modern, shaking off the image of boring non-fiction books. This clean, modern feel is replicated in the pictures and maps chosen, which, in the main, are colourful and appealing. In terms of reading age, it is generally appropriate for KS2-KS3, in my opinion, which is ages 7-14, however some words, by necessity, are more difficult, and KS2 and low ability KS3 students may struggle with them, although there is a very good glossary provided in the back of the book.
As an educator, the book provides a quiz and further information sources, which should consolidate and extend learning. However, the quiz is more focused on survival skills, and is not useful for assessment, and the 'Read More' section could have been longer to provide a greater selection of paper based resources. The FactHound code, used to produce a list of verified, trusted websites, is an excellent idea, as it will give parents/educators the peace of mind that their children/students are getting reliable, appropriate information from the internet.
Overall this is an excellent book where learning takes place almost by accident. From a parents/educator's point of view, it is a well-researched, non-fiction book that will keep children and teenagers engaged and entertained while they are learning. For children/teenagers, I believe they will enjoy the choices given and the style of the writing, which makes it read more like a fiction book rather than a non-fiction book. A must have for any school or public library!
Can You Survive
Antarctica? is released on the 1st August and is available to pre-order from Amazon UK and for $6.95 from Amazon US. It is currently not available in e-book format, if you want to see it available for e-readers either use the link on the Amazon website or contact Capstone Press directly.
[An advance reading copy was provided by Capstone Press]