Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Helen Thayer’s Arctic Adventure

Isaacs, Sally (Author)
Sasheva, Iva (Illustrator)
Capstone 2016. 32 pages
First published: 2016
ISBN: 9781623706074 (hardcover)
9781515728122 (e-book)
Original language: English
Dewey: 917
Book type: Non-Fiction
Book genre: Biography

Text Elements:

character, layout, multimodal, setting

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Helen Thayer has a goal: to become the first woman to walk to the magnetic North Pole. Charlie, an Inuit husky, becomes her faithful companion, and together they face multiple hardships including polar bears, ice cracks, snow storms and strong winds that blow away their supplies.

The text is straightforward, with short practical sentences: “The bear raced toward them. With a quick swipe of its paw, it tossed Helen’s sled into the air.” Smooth prose allows the story to take centre stage, detailing each riveting struggle.

Acrylic illustrations are realistic, portraying the arctic landscape at its harshest, with flat barren land and constant wind and snow. The palette is primarily white and greys, with the exception of Helen’s red snowsuit and Charlie’s black fur. One page shows Helen’s tent at night, with a dark blue sky and tiny blowing snowflakes. Charlie sits outside “to watch for polar bears.” In a later scene, Charlie and Helen are shown inside the tent, sharing a pillow. Charlie is asleep, while Helen watches him with tender affection.

After many setbacks, they finally make it to the North Pole. Following the story is a note from Helen with some inspiring wisdom: “I never allowed myself to think that I might not make it.” Additional information is provided about Helen’s previous adventures along with a page about Charlie, where we learn that Helen brought him back to live with her in Washington.

  •  

    Discuss how you might feel to be heading out on a winter expedition—walking, skiing and kayaking—alone for 27 days.

  •  

    Plan a list of essential items you would bring on such an expedition. Consider the weight and size of what you bring as you will be pulling it on a sleigh for a month.

  •  

    Make a list of the obstacles Helen has to face to reach her goal. Describe how you would have reacted to each of them. What character traits do you have in common with Helen and how are you different?

  •  

    Rewrite the story with events unfolding differently because Helen has not listened to the advice of the Inuit man who strongly recommends she bring Charlie with her.

  •  

    Examine the book cover. Discuss the character traits and equipment needed for such an adventure.

  •  

    Go for a picture walk. Trace Helen's trek on a map. Discuss the opportunities and challenges she faces on her journey.

  •  

    As the story is read, compare your perception of the pictures to the author’s.

  •  

    With Ms. Thayer in mind, review the character traits and equipment you listed in the first activity. What makes you add or delete items?

  •  

    Sir Edmund Hillary, one of the first humans to reach the top of Mount Everest, said: “Anybody can be an explorer if they want to be ... Figure out what you want to do, and do it.” What would you like to explore? Write about it in your reader-writer’s notebook.

  •  

    What equipment and necessities do you believe a single individual requires for a five-day expedition to the North Pole? Make a list and discuss your answers in small groups. What other preparations might be necessary?

  •  

    Helen knew there would be risks along the way. As you read, note keywords that represent the dangers and risks she faced.

  •  

    Retell the story from Charlie’s point of view. Begin from the moment Helen takes him on as her Arctic companion.

  • To adopt effective work methods
  • To communicate appropriately
  • To construct his/her identity
  • To use creativity
  • To use information
  • Environmental Awareness and Consumer Rights and Responsibilities
  • Health and Well-Being
  • Personal and Career Planning
  • Geography, History and Citizenship
  • Personal Development
  • Physical Education and Health