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The White Darkness


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About the Author

Geraldine McCaughrean is the Printz Award-winning author of The White Darkness. She has been honored with England's most prestigious children's book award, the Carnegie Medal, and is the only three-time winner ever of the Whitbread Children's Book Award. She also wrote Peter Pan in Scarlet, the first official sequel to the treasured masterpiece Peter Pan, and the critically acclaimed The Death-Defying Pepper Roux. Geraldine lives in Berkshire, England, with her husband and actress daughter.


Gr 9 Up-In this oddly fascinating tale by British author Geraldine McCaughrean (Oxford Univ. Pr., 2005), 14-year-old Symone is a misfit at school. She cares little about boys, gossip, and other concerns of typical teens. Sym and her father were fascinated with polar exploration history, but her father has died and her mother is struggling to cope. Sym retreats by way of imaginary conversations with Captain Laurence "Titus" Oates, an explorer on Robert Scott's failed expedition to reach the South Pole. "Uncle" Victor, her father's business partner, spirits Sym away to "the Ice," intent on satisfying his own obsession with the South Pole. Victor turns out to be a raving lunatic and Sym ends up stranded with Oates's voice in her head encouraging her to survive. In this jaw-dropping adventure, the characters are marvelously portrayed by two British actors, Ruth Sillers and Richard Morant. Although the tale if very wordy and there are a few mature situations, older teen who enjoy quirky tales will be enthralled.-Tricia Melgaard, Centennial Middle School, Broken Arrow, OK Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

Symone, 14, narrates McCaughrean's (Peter Pan in Scarlet) tale about the trip of a lifetime gone horribly wrong. Hearing-impaired and unpopular, Sym appreciates the attentions of "Uncle" Victor, her dead father's business partner and the family's seeming benefactor. Victor, an eccentric genius obsessed with proving the discredited Hollow Earth theories of John Symmes, has fostered in Sym a lifelong fascination with Antarctica. Indeed, Sym's only companion is an imaginary friend, Lawrence "Titus" Oates, who perished in 1912 during Captain Robert Scott's ill-fated expedition to the South Pole. Sym is thrilled when Victor spirits her off for an impromptu trip to Paris, which morphs-incredibly-into a trek to Antarctica, as the two join a crowd of rich tourists for a guided look at "The Ice's" astounding landscape. Victor aligns with Manfred Bruch, a purported Norwegian filmmaker, and his son. Guests and guides alike become mysteriously ill, and the tour is cut short, but the plane intended to return the group to safety explodes. After Victor's "nice cup of tea" induces sleep in everyone else, the four abscond on Victor's mad quest for Symmes's Hole. The heroine's relentless self-deprecation, a necessary element of her unconditional acceptance of Victor, is nonetheless somewhat overplayed. But the ratcheting terror, thrilling double-crosses and gorgeously articulated star character-Antarctica itself-combine for a girl's adventure yarn of the first order. Ages 12-up. (Jan.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

Fourteen-year-old, hearing-impaired, and bespectacled Symone accompanies her brilliant Uncle Victor on a journey to Antarctica, where her uncle pursues a mad plan to disprove a fellow scientist's Hollow Earth theory. Symone must discover her own way through the lies swirling around her like white snow. As fellow travelers begin to fall sick and die, Symone's hope and comfort is found in the romantic ghost of a polar explorer. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

"Lyrical language actively engages the senses, plunging readers into a captivating landscape that challenges the boundaries of reality....This imaginative novel offers plenty of action."--Booklist (starred review)
"Readers will find this a triply compelling tale: for its slow revelation of a deranged soul; for its young narrator, who turns out to be tougher than she or anyone else supposes; and for its wildly hostile setting, which quickly turns the secret expedition into a frantic struggle to survive."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"...the ratcheting terror, thrilling double-crosses and gorgeously articulated star character -- Antarctica itself -- combine for a girl's adventure yarn of the first order."--Publishers Weekly

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