Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World: The Extraordinary True Story of Shackleton and the Endurance

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World: The Extraordinary True Story of Shackleton and the Endurance Book Poster Image
Survival saga of attempted Antarctic crossing.

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 4 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

The men come close to mutiny.


Many, especially the passage to Elephant Island. The men are often close to death.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this book is history as exciting adventure -- better than fictional survival stories, beautifully written, and illustrated with photos that survived from the voyage.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byThe Lane boys' Mom May 11, 2012

Great for a School Project

My 10-year old son selected this book for a book report. We both enjoyed reading the book. I liked it as it captured his attention and was not the typical subje... Continue reading
Parent of a 3-year-old Written byjakesyl May 7, 2011
Love it
Kid, 10 years old April 12, 2011

a book you will never forget-wether it`s because of how boring it is, or the amazing true story

i read it for school and though it seems boring and like it`s dragging on forever, there are SOME exciting parts. I mean, try being out there freezing for month... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old December 29, 2010

Challenging and Fascinating Book

the vocabulary is challenging. i just finished reading this book with my fifth grade advanced work class before break.

What's the story?

This is the incredible survival saga of Ernest Shackleton, who attempted to cross the Antarctic continent in 1914, and who, with his crew of twenty-seven, ended up trapped in an ice pack for seven months.

When their ship was finally crushed by the ice, Shackleton and crew survived another five months on the moving ice floes, traveled through storm-tossed seas to an uninhabited island, and were finally rescued, two years after they had set out, when Shackleton and five crew members traveled eight hundred miles in an open boat to get help. Not a man was lost.

Includes maps, bibliography, and index.

Is it any good?

This unbelievable story -- the subject of numerous books, articles, and even a museum exhibition -- is enhanced by Jennifer Armstrong's breathtaking prose. From the spellbinding introduction through the epilogue, it is her writing as much as the story that rivets the reader's attention. The tale is a testament to the old-fashioned virtues that made the British such great explorers during the height of their Empire. Courage, fortitude, perseverance, good cheer and humor in the face of disaster, and that uniquely British trait called the "stiff upper lip" are all on display, as the crew endures the most punishing setbacks yet ultimately triumphs.

The photos, taken mostly on glass plates by Frank Hurley, survived along with the men, and are of exceptional quality. Along with the text, they provide a you-are-there quality that keeps readers holding their breaths for much of the story. This account is told as the most exciting of adventure tales, the way history for children should be written.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what Shackleton and his crew had to do to survive. What kinds of traits helped these men keep going as they faced enourmous challenges? If you were to undertake an expedition like this, how would you prepare yourself, mentally and physically?

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