‘Race to the Frozen North: The Matthew Henson Story,’ by Catherine Johnson, illustrated by Katie Hickey.

You all know the story of the race to the North Pole, right? Wrong! I bet you’ve never heard the remarkable tale of Matthew Henson, part of a team of men who reached the North Pole on a dog sled AHEAD of Dr. Cook!


This new super-readable title from Barrington Stoke tells the unbelievable bit true story of the orphan, Matthew Henson.

Matthew did not have an easy life.  His stepmother thought nothing of violently beating him at the slightest provocation.  It was only when she beat him so badly he feared she’d break his arms and legs, that Matthew decided the only option left to him was to run away to the city to try to find work.  This wouldn’t be easy because employment options for a dark-skinned runaway were severely limited. However, Matthew was not deterred and off he set – perhaps the first indicator of the steely grit and determination which would see him have amazing adventures which spanned the globe.

Matthew passed the years doing one menial job after another until he worked his way onto a great ship set to sail to Hong Kong.  It was aboard the ship that Captain Child’s taught Matthew to read, write and navigate by the stars.  By the time he was seventeen, Matthew was a literate and experienced sailor.  He knew that life on the sea, was the life for him.

What followed next were the most fantastic and dangerous adventures across frozen wastelands, as yet unconquered by men. Matthew would be tested in ways he had never been before and make friends that would last a lifetime.

An absolutely gripping tale of prejudice, determination and life-threatening danger. When you consider the barriers in Matthew’s way (and the way he smashed through them), his life story is all the more remarkable and surely an inspiration for those of us who let obstacles block our paths.

A must-read for anyone aged 8+

Library Girl (@BookSuperhero2)

*Many thanks to Barrington Stoke for sending me this title to review*




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