Monday, June 16, 2014

Sophie Scott Goes South by Alison Lester

Back in 2005, author Alison Lester took a trip to Antarctica traveling on the Aurora Australis, an icebreaker ship that delivers supplies to the Australian scientists at Mawson Station.  During the six weeks Lester was there, she emailed information about her adventures to schools and families around the world.  In  response, kids emailed her copies of their drawings based on her stories.

When she returned to Australia, Lester put together a children's book creating a story in diary form and using many of the illustrations done by the kids.  Sophie Scott Goes South is result.

Nine-year-old Sophie is traveling to Antarctica on her dad's icebreaking ship, the Aurora Australis.  She will be gone for about a month, taking almost two weeks to get to Mawson Station and almost two weeks to return, weather permitting.

After saying good-bye to her mom and little brother Alfie, Sophie begins to recount in her diary the people she meets, the different animals she sees and what an icebreaker is like in words and pictures.  She describes the ship in detail, including her cabin that she will share with her dad, though Sophie's bunk has a curtain across it for privacy.  As the ship moves closer to Antarctica, and sailing gets rougher, Sophie experiences some seasickness, along with the other passengers.  But once she has her sea legs, Sophie continues her diary.   Her voices is friendly and her entries informative.

Among the interesting observations Sophie details are the different icebergs she sees, the layers of clothing she must wear against the bitter cold weather, the penguins floating by on an ice floe and seals peeking through broken ice:

Sophie's voyage is fun and exciting, but when the ship arrives at Mawson Station, and a blizzard delays leaving to return to Australia, you realize how dangerous life at the bottom of the world can be, if you aren't careful.

There is so much information to be found in Sophie's story and Lester manages to present it all in the voice of a very curious 9 year old, retaining a chatty, friendly style throughout that young readers will no doubt find appealing.

I was hooked on this story from the first page and enjoyed it all the way through.  Sophie provides so much information about past and present day Antarctica, that this would be a wonderful classroom substitute in any classroom.  And since most children would never be allowed to take a journey to Antarctica the way Sophie did, Sophie Scott Goes South might just be the next best thing to being there.

This book is recommended for readers age 6+
This book was purchased for my personal library

Publisher's Weekly has a lovely interview with Alison Lester, in which she talks about her own research in Antarctica and how she was inspired to write Sophie Scott Goes South.  You can read it HERE


  1. What a fantastically unique story. I love how it was created. Thank you for sharing it on the #KidLitBlog Hop. Have a super rest of the week and weekend ahead.
    ~Cool Mom for
    The Stanley & Katrina Gang
    Hopping along the #KidLitBlogHop

  2. Hurrrahhh, we love this book. My 3 year old insists on getting this one out from the library regularly. I groaned when I saw the length of it but when we started reading, we were so amazed at all the information that Alison Lester imparts. This is a firm favourite, especially since we aren't far from the destination, LOL< well, close than most. Thanks for linking in to the Kid Lit Blog Hop


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