Bound by Ice: A True North Pole Survival Story
by Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace
Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills Press (September 19, 2017)
Description from GoodReads:
In the years following the Civil War, -Arctic fever- gripped the American public, fueled by myths of a fertile, tropical sea at the top of the world. Several explorers attempted to find a route to the North Pole, but none succeeded. Bound by Ice follows the journey of George Washington De Long and the crew of the USS Jeannette, who departed San Francisco in the summer of 1879 hoping to find a route to the North Pole. However, in mid-September the ship became locked in ice north of Siberia and drifted for nearly two years before it was crushed by ice and sank. De Long and his men escaped the ship and began a treacherous journey in extreme polar conditions in an attempt to reach civilization. Many--including De Long--did not survive. A riveting true-life adventure, Bound by Ice includes excerpts from De Long's extensive journals, which were recovered with his body; newspapers from the time; and photos and sketches by the men on the expedition. The title also includes an epilogue, author's note, bibliography, source notes, and index.
Thank you Calkins Creek and Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace for the interview about your newest book.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE BOUND BY ICE?
SANDRA: I’m drawn to stories about people who break barriers and become change-makers, and they often risk their lives for what they believe in—in this case, advancing humanity through science and discovery. I was inspired by the courage of the USS Jeannette explorers and their herculean skills, which helped many of them survive. Their discoveries broke through some pretty serious inaccuracies about the Arctic and changed polar history. But it was their strength to survive and help each other that changed the mindset of future explorers and made me want to write their stories.
RICH: I’ve always been fascinated by polar-survival-type stories--the Jack London genre. When I learned that Commander De Long’s detailed journals of this expedition were accessible to researchers at the U.S. Naval Academy Museum, I couldn’t wait to read them.
HOW DO YOU THINK KIDS OF 2017 WILL RELATE TO EVENTS IN THE BOOK FROM THE 1800s?
RICH: Who hasn’t been cold, wet, exhausted, and hungry? Anyone with an adventurous spirit will be drawn into this story immediately and will be astonished—as we were—by what these explorers were able to endure.
SANDRA: I can’t wait for young fans of survival stories like Hatchet and the I Survived series to read Bound By Ice, because it’s the ultimate true story of adventure and survival.
Fear of the unknown—and that fear factor of getting stranded somewhere, is timeless. Just like the question, “Could you survive the harshest climatic conditions known to humankind?”
For some of the Jeannette explorers, the answer was “yes.” But how did they stay alive? What did their courage look like? And who died? That’s what I wanted to know. Reading how their survival skills were tested and the physical and emotional stamina they developed is what I think young readers will find gripping.
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO RESEARCH AND WRITE THIS BOOK?
SANDRA: It took us two years to research and write Bound By Ice. The first place we visited for research was the Naval Academy Museum, reading De Long’s forty-five pound logbooks and the ice journals he lugged through ice and slush. That really gave us a sense of just how thrilling, terrifying, and harrowing their search for the North Pole became. But there are always twists along the way. We wanted to know more about the Alaska Native explorers on the expedition, which led us to connecting with tribal elders in the Native Village of St. Michael, and to Rich making contacts at the University of Alaska. As journalists, we feel it’s our job to correct inaccuracies and uncover new facts, even though this takes a lot longer.
WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES AND BENEFITS OF WRITING A BOOK WITH ANOTHER PERSON?
SANDRA: Rich may have a much different answer, but I see nothing but benefits co-authoring long-form nonfiction projects with him. First off, we both read the same research materials and choose the sections to want to write about. Then for continuity, we become each other’s editors before the manuscript even gets to the editor of the book. Rich really keeps me on track. We’re also accountable to each other when it comes to deadlines and challenge one another to keep sharpening our detective skills in solving the seemingly impossible 100 or so questions that usually pop up while we’re researching a book.
RICH: Sandra is the most intense researcher I’ve ever seen, so I just try to follow her lead!
WHY DO YOU THINK NONFICTION BOOKS ARE IMPORTANT FOR YOUNG READERS TODAY?
RICH: Many of today’s nonfiction books tell stories that are at least as compelling as a novel. Our primary goal in deciding whether we want to pursue a subject is whether there is a strong central character and an exciting story arc. Bound By Ice has all that plus fascinating secondary characters and an incredible setting. And we were able to tie that era of Arctic history to the present because of De Long’s scientific discoveries: his measurements and other data captured the state of the ice and the fauna. Today’s scientists are using that information to demonstrate how the climate has changed.
SANDRA: When it comes to history, knowing our past gives us an understanding of where we came from and promotes critical thinking. It's vital for young readers to know how our world got to this point and how humans have navigated life before us; often badly but also heroically. What course do they want to chart?
About the authors:
Sandra Neil Wallace had a lengthy career as a news anchor and ESPN sportscaster before writing realistic fiction and nonfiction for young readers. A pioneer in the journalism field, she was the first woman to cover the National Hockey League on network TV. Selected as a promising new voice in children’s literature by The Horn Book, Wallace’s titles have been named to state and national awards lists including Bank Street College’s Best Children’s Book of the Year, ALA-YALSA Quick Picks, and Booklist’s Top 10 Sports Books for Youth. Visit sandraneilwallace.com.
Rich Wallace has written more than three dozen novels for children and teens. His first novel, Wrestling Sturbridge, was selected by the American Library Association as one of the top 100 YA books of the twentieth century. His recent children's nonfiction includes the acclaimed Blood Brother, co-written with his wife, Sandra Neil Wallace. He lives in Keene, New Hampshire. Visit richwallacebooks.com.
Check out the other stops on the blog tour:
Sunday, 9/17 Nerdy Book Club
Monday, 9/18 Mrs. Yingling Reads
Tuesday, 9/19 The Booklist Reader
Wednesday, 9/20 KidLit Frenzy
Thursday, 9/21 Dr. Bickmore’s YA Wednesday
Friday, 9/22 The Nonfiction Detectives
Don't forget to link up your nonfiction reviews...