Harcourt, 2006 (2005)
Reviewed by Kerrily Sapet
he time is mid-October 1868. The place is Ellesmere Island near Greenland. Fourteen-year-old Alika and his younger brother Sulu are on the edge of a thick ice floe hunting for seal when the floe breaks free from the shore. The two brothers are set adrift with only each other, the supplies on their sledge, and their lead husky Jamka to keep them alive. To make matters worse, they face this danger on the eve of the long winter darkness. Snow is already falling and will continue to fall until June.
heodore Taylor tells the story from two perspectives - that of Alika and that of his village of Nunatak. As the boys' parents search for them in kayaks, the brothers fall back on the survival skills they have been taught. They build themselves an
, continue hunting for meat to keep themselves alive, and fend off a
, or polar bear. They also remind themselves of home by retelling village legends and the story of the only other person they know who survived life adrift on an ice floe. The boys are haunted by the unknown question of how long they will be trapped and wonder if they will survive this ordeal.
s the two brothers struggle to keep themselves alive, Taylor is also educating the reader about life in the Arctic Circle. The thrilling story is full of information about native animals and the harsh, yet beautiful seasons. Each of the characters in the tale also learns something about themselves, their ability to survive, and at heart what is most important to them in life.
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