Race to the Frozen North: The Matthew Henson Story

Publisher: Barrington Stoke

Review

Penniless and shoeless, 11-year-old Matt leaves home and walks to Washington DC in search of a new life. Taken in by the kindly Janey, he helps in her café. But, entranced by a customer’s tales of adventure on the high seas, Matt starts to dream of sailing the world. As he sets off to find work on a ship, little does he know of the deep challenges he’ll face and the incredible things he’ll achieve.

Because of the colour of his skin, Matt has to work harder than everyone else to get half as far. But by the time he’s twenty, he’s travelled the world, is a master carpenter and speaks several languages. On land, though, nobody cares. Then he meets Officer Peary, a man with a great ambition: to find the North Pole. Matt’s skills and abilities will prove essential to Peary’s endeavours – but will he get the recognition he deserves?

Based on the story of real-life 19th-century explorer Matthew Henson, Catherine Johnson’s light touch makes this remarkable story an exciting read and sheds important light on the way prejudice has white-washed the way we learn about the past. A super-readable book and printed in a dyslexia-friendly format.

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