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Captain Mac by Mary Morton CowanCowan, Mary Morton Captain Mac: The Life of Donald Baxter MacMillan, Arctic Explorer
Gr. 4–6  208 pp. Boyds Mill/Calkins Creek
Cowan chronicles the life of MacMillan from his boyhood in New England to his last Arctic voyage in the 1950s. MacMillan’s major expeditions and scientific studies are vividly described. The author’s use of her subject’s journals, letters, and books adds detail and authenticity. MacMillan’s own photographs enhance this well-documented, sophisticated text. Websites. Bib., ind.
Subjects: Geography and Exploration; MacMillan, Donald Baxter; Arctic regions; North Pole; Biographies

Leif Eriksson by Cheryl DeFriesDeFries, Cheryl L. Leif Eriksson: Viking Explorer of the New World
Middle school  112 pp. Enslow

Feinstein, Stephen Captain Cook: Great Explorer of the Pacific
Middle school  112 pp. Enslow

Green, Carl R. Cortés: Conquering the Powerful Aztec Empire
Middle school  112 pp. Enslow

Napoli, Tony Vasco da Gama: Discovering the Sea Route to India
Middle school  112 pp. Enslow

Robinson, Kate Lewis and Clark: Exploring the American West
Middle school  112 pp. Enslow

Sonneborn, Liz Pizarro: Conqueror of the Mighty Incas
Middle school  112 pp. Enslow
Great Explorers of the World series. Examining the lives of well-known explorers, these biographies go beyond to offer information about the times in which the men lived; events leading up to and surrounding their travels; and the impact of their explorations on the world. The volumes are well illustrated with photos, archival art, and maps. Reading list, timeline, websites. Glos., ind.
Subjects: Geography and Exploration; Biographies; Vikings; Ericson, Leif; Cook, James; Cortés, Hernando; Native Americans—North America—Aztec; Gama, Vasco da; History, American—Lewis and Clark expedition; History, American—Overland journeys to the Pacific; History, American—Frontier and pioneer life; Native Americans—South America—Incas; Pizarro, Francisco

Keep On! by Deborah HopkinsonHopkinson, Deborah Keep On!: The Story of Matthew Henson, Co-Discoverer of the North Pole
Gr. K–3  40 pp. Peachtree
Illustrated by Stephen Alcorn. Alcorn’s illustrations, filled with swirls and stars and sunbursts, create an ethereal and almost mythical landscape in this biography of the African American explorer who, along with Robert E. Peary, became “the first to stand at the top of the world.” Hopkinson’s writing is crisp and fluid, with quotes from Henson lending additional veracity. Back matter discusses how racial prejudice obscured Henson’s achievement. Reading list, timeline, websites.
Subjects: Geography and Exploration; Henson, Matthew; North Pole; African Americans; Biographies; Arctic regions

Into the Unknown by Stewart RossRoss, Stewart Into the Unknown: How Great Explorers Found Their Way by Land, Sea, and Air
Gr. 4–6  96 pp. Candlewick
Illustrated by Stephen Biesty. This remarkable book presents fourteen historical explorations, from Pytheas the Greek’s three-thousand-years-ago voyage to Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins’s moon shot, with the question “how did they do that?” as focus. Detailed cross sections, often displayed in foldout segments, diagram each mode of transportation; maps abound, also within foldout pages. The text diligently differentiates between fact and opinion. Bib., glos., ind.
Subjects: Geography and Exploration; Toy and movable books; Transportation; Vehicles

La Malinche by Francisco SerranoSerrano, Francisco La Malinche: The Princess Who Helped Cortés Conquer the Aztec Empire
Gr. 4–6  37 pp. Groundwood
Illustrated by Pablo Serrano. Reviewing the complicated reputation of La Malinche, the Nahuatl woman who provided Cortés with advice, translation, and eventually a child as he conquered the Aztecs, Serrano makes no judgments. He clearly lays out the facts (where known) of her life and the effects of her actions. Pen-and-gouache illustrations mimic the style of Aztec codices. Reading list, timeline. Bib., glos.
Native Americans; Women—Native Americans; Mexico; Native Americans—North America—Aztec; Women—Biographies; Biographies; Exploration and explorers; Princes and princesses; Marina (Aztec princess)

From the April 2013 issue of Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book.



  1. The amount of research that went into this book is staggering. It’s a fascinating read and the photographs should keep young readers engaged,

  2. Cathy Beneke says:

    Cobngrats! Captain Mac looks like a good read. I just ordered one from Amazon.

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