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Race to the Frozen North: The Matthew Henson Story

Catherine Johnson, Katie Hickey


  • Action Adventures - chills, thrills and plenty of spills

Average rating

5 out 5

A thrilling fictionalised account of the life of Matthew Henson, the first African-American man to travel to the North Pole, from the Carnegie-nominated author Catherine Johnson. Matthew Henson was simply an ordinary man. That was, until Commander Robert E. Peary entered his life, and offered him a chance at true adventure. Henson would become navigator, craftsman, translator, and right-hand man on a treacherous journey to the North Pole. Defying the odds and the many prejudices that faced him to become a true pioneer. This is his incredible and often untold story. Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 8+


An excellent easy-to-read text about Matthew Henson's journey to the North Pole. It tells the story of how adventurous Matthew managed to go against all odds and become the first black explorer to reach the North Pole and to be arguably the first person to reach the North Pole at all. This is a really accessible text and it highlights the benefits of being kind to local people can be (in this case with the Inuits who went on to help Matthew as they taught him everything he knew and accompanied on the expedition). It's a heart-warming story and although it is a fairly easy-read, in order to really unpick the racism and white privilege that went on and continues to go on today, I would recommend this for an older audience. We are teaching this alongside our geography topic: 'Life in the freezer' in Y5.


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