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Matthew Henson: Arctic Adventurer
Matthew Henson: Arctic Adventurer
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Reviewed Titles
Graphic Library

Matthew Henson: Arctic Adventurer

A biography discussing the life story of explorer Matthew Henson and his expedition to the North Pole with Robert Peary. Written in graphic-novel format.

PublisherCapstone Press
BrandGraphic Library
Age Level8-14 Years
Reading LevelGrades 3-4
GenreGraphic Nonfiction
SubjectGraphic Novels
Trim Size7 x 9
Page Count32



Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Review

"It was hard being a young black man who had dreams in the late 1800s. It seemed as if Matt Henson would never be able to find a job which wasn’t boring, physically back-breaking, and ill paid. Despite the fact that Matt had many skills including navigation, reading, and more, he was only hired to do menial jobs. Then, at last, he got a break. Matt found work serving as a valet for Lieutenant Robert Peary. Matt and Peary went to Nicaragua together and then, some time later, Peary asked Matt to go to the Arctic with him. Peary dreamed of becoming the first man to reach the North Pole and Matt hoped to be able to help him achieve this goal. Together the men made several trips to the Artic. In between the trips Matt had to make a living in America and he had to reconcile himself to being treated badly. In the Arctic however, he was valued for his skills, his courage, and his resourcefulness. It was very much as if he had to “live in two different worlds.” In April of 1909 Matt and Peary and their companions finally got to the North Pole. Unfortunately, Matt’s contribution to the success of this remarkable journey was not recognized once the explorers got home and Matt had to once again fight the injustices of racism. Many young and not so young readers will be surprised to discover that Peary was accompanied by Matthew Henson on his famous journey to the North Pole. All too often Henson’s name is left out of the history books. In this excellent account Henson is given the recognition he deserves and the story serves as a first rate tribute to an exceptional man." - Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Review

February 1, 2007

Multicultural Review

"This nonfiction series for grades three through nine is unique in its format, which is more typical of the very popular graphic novels for children and teens. The easy-to-read text and vivid full-color illustrations by Phil Miller, Tod Smith, and Charles Barnett II feature appealing characters that will encourage young readers to learn about history. In these four volumes all the subjects are famous African Americans and Latinos whose adventures will appeal especially to preteen and young teenage boys. They include labor leader Chavez, the first African American to play in modern major league baseball, the great explorer of the North Pole, and a couple whose spectacular escape from slavery (and their account of it) captured the imagination of nineteenth-century abolitionists. Each volume offers a table of contents, controlled vocabulary, quotations from primary sources, short and direct sentence structure, and precise photo-text matches to aid comprehension. Also included are a glossary, a bibliography, Internet sites, and an index." - Multicultural Review

April 1, 2006

Book Links - Jesse Karp

"This standout in the Graphic Biographies series briskly details the life of the American explorer who, with Robert Peary, blazed a trail into the Arctic and pinpointed the North Pole. Growing up in the late nineteenth century did not afford a young African American many opportunities, and Henson suffered through many menial jobs, indignities, and much discrimination before he became such a crucial part of American history." - Book Links

October 1, 2010


Children's Literature Comprehensive Database

"Innovative and entertaining, this nonfiction title captures the story of African-American explorer Matthew Henson in a graphic novel format. This unique way to present biographical information to elementary through middle school age students is sure to be a big hit. Although the information presented is not detailed, an overview of Henson’s struggles and accomplishments are presented. Readers will empathize with the young Henson as they read about his struggle for meaningful work in a time when young black men were not considered equal. They will cheer for him as he finally receives the recognition he deserves for his role in the discovery of the North Pole. The careful selection of vocabulary and easy to read text makes this title very useful for biographical research, especially for struggling readers. The bold illustrations really enhance the text. Useful text features include highlighted direct quotes from primary sources, a table of contents, an index, a glossary of Inuit vocabulary, a bibliography, and a list of related web sites. Other personalities in Capstone’s new “Graphic Biographies” series include Eleanor Roosevelt, Jackie Robinson, Patrick Henry, and Benjamin Franklin." - Children's Literature Comprehensive Database

July 1, 2007


"Matthew Henson was the sort of man that pulp heroes such as Doc Savage and Indiana Jones were based on: resourceful, resolute, and courageous. In this entry in the Graphic Biographies series, Hoena speeds through a whirlwind of facts, about his life, from his stint as a 12-year-old sailor and hard times during which he was forced into demeaning jobs to his travels with Robert Peary, during which he played a crucial role in befriending the local Inuit population and locating the North Pole. Although the motives of certain historical figures in the account remain unaddressed, the encapsulation of facts moves briskly along and is filled with fascinating nuggets of information (for example, how dog sledges were kept together in temperatures that made nails too brittle to use). The art feels contemporary, and the layout recalls classic comic books, a great boon to the pacing. Reference to the publisher’s dedicated FactHound Internet site and a list of further readings will cast light on more complex aspects of Henson’s life and work. Other titles in the series introduce such figures as Clara Barton and César Chávez." - Booklist

November 1, 2005