Fans of Katherine Applegate's The One and Only Ivan will treasure this timeless tale about a magnificent adventure to the North Pole and the even more astounding feat of true friendship. A perfect purchase for animal and adventure lovers alike.
Freya has always cravedand fearedadventure. Traipsing all over the world is simply not what dignified rockhopper penguins do. But when she hears about Captain Salomon August Andrée's hot-air balloon expedition to the North Pole, Freya packs her copy of Hints to Lady Travellers and hops on board.
Only moments after leaving land, Freya discovers a fellow stowaway! Meet Zoose, the scrappy, uncouth mouse whose endless wisecracks and despicable manners make him a less-than-ideal travel companion.
When the hot-air balloon is forced to land in the Arctic, these polar opposites must learn how to get along. Their very survival depends on it.
Debut author Emily Butler spins wonder and whimsy and Jennifer Thermes contributes over fifty black-and-white illustrations to bring this enchanting friendship tale to life.
|Publisher:||Random House Children's Books|
|Product dimensions:||6.20(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.00(d)|
|Age Range:||8 - 12 Years|
About the Author
Emily Butler is the eldest of seven children and grew up hiding behind the sofa so that she could read her books in peace and quiet. (It was never quiet.) She finished high school in Brazil, worked on a kibbutz in Israel, practiced law in New York City, catered weddings in Londonand was never without a book in her backpack or briefcase. Emily recently moved to Utah with her husband. They live in an old house that is stuffed to the gills with three lovely but disobedient children, and every sort of book.
Jennifer Thermes is an acclaimed children's book author, illustrator, and map illustrator. Her books have received a starred review from Kirkus and been included in several Bank Street College lists. She lives and works in an eighteenth-century farmhouse in Connecticut, where occasional visiting mice obligingly pose for drawings. Jennifer is fascinated by nature, history, and the idea of traveling in a balloon.
Read an Excerpt
There was no question in Freya’s mind that this was her last chance. Either she would find a way onto the balloon, or she would live out the rest of her days on this miserable rock. The men down on the beach nailed the boards of the balloon house together, a shed with no roof. The wind carried parts of their conversation up to Freya’s hideout. From these snippets she knew that she had three nights to prepare for the journey. That was how much time she had to gather the courage to leave.
Men had been here once before, a year ago. They had built the same shed, filled the balloon with gas, and then watched helplessly as the wind knocked it to the ground. They’d left with their tails between their legs. Freya had lacked the gumption to try her luck with that crew, but another year of solitude had almost driven her mad; now she’d do anything to get off the island. And there was something else: she wasn’t a spring chick anymore. If she was going to save herself, it was now or never. No guts, no glory, she thought. Hideous expression.
As the sun began to sink toward the edge of the sea, the men rowed themselves back to their big ship, where they ate and laughed and slept. Freya waddled down to the balloon house and slipped inside. Here she saw the great basket, not yet rigged to the balloon, in the middle of the floor. Would there be room for her and her things? The wicker was densely woven, but she gripped a piece in her beak and tugged. After an hour or so of this, she unraveled a gap large enough to squeeze through.
And what luck! Once inside, she realized that the basket was made of not one but two layers of wicker, with cotton stuffed between them for warmth. Freya plucked some of it out and made a small compartment for herself. “Third-class passage,” she sniffed, “but it will do.”
Then there was much to-ing and fro-ing between the basket and her hideout, as she toted her supplies down to the shed and concealed them in her little berth. She ferried tins of sardines and stale biscuits. There was coffee powder that tasted faintly of dirt, and some mysterious potted meat. Precious packets of Baldwin’s Nervous Pills were squirreled away, as was a suitcase crammed with extra sweaters and a lilac-colored woolen scarf.
Exhausted by this effort, Freya wove the wicker back together and hurried to her cave to rest. On the second night, she was at work again. This time she packed some cakes of chocolate, several items of a personal nature, a suet pudding that was probably five years past its prime, and many strips of bitter green moss that was said to prevent scurvy. Then she went home and crouched at the mouth of her cave to watch the activity on the shore.
Men scurried this way and that. Some measured the speed and direction of the wind. Others oiled ropes and checked the contents of wooden chests. Freya saw the glint of brass nautical instruments. And above it all rose the glorious balloon, shining and rippling in the sun, growing more rotund by the hour as the men pumped it full of hydrogen.
Freya stroked her beloved copy of Hints to Lady Travellers at Home and Abroad one last time to calm her nerves. How difficult the decision to leave the book behind had been. She could not in good conscience add any weight to the basket that wasn’t strictly necessary to her survival— hadn’t she snipped the very fringe off her boots to make them lighter? Anyway, she had long since memorized every word written by Mrs. Davidson, the woman who had governed her adventures.
“My adventure,” Freya corrected herself out loud. There had only been one so far, and look how that had turned out. Misadventure, more like. Tragedy, even!
On the third night, Freya played a last round of checkers for old times’ sake. Then she dropped the black and white pebbles out of the cave and listened to them skitter down the side of the cliff. It had taken her months to collect them, but there was nothing more depressing than playing checkers against oneself, even if one was guaranteed to win every time. She had come to despise the pebbles and the lonely way their clinks echoed off the walls of the cave. Good riddance to bad rubble, indeed!
She filled her canteens with water from the spring, and then there was almost nothing left for her to do except sweep out the cave with beach grass, which she did with scrupulous care. Freya removed Hints to Lady Travellers from its nook in the cave wall and cradled it in her wing. “I fear I’ve become strange,” she admitted to its faded cover. Her final act was to heap some stones over the book, making a sort of tomb. She stood before the mound for a full minute. Then she buttoned her jacket, picked up her canteens, and made her way to the shed on the seashore.
For the third and last time, Freya breached the basket and squeezed herself into the familiar cavity. She did her best to repair the wicker from the inside and waited for the sun to come up. Her heart drummed in her ears. Was she afraid she might be discovered? Was she anxious to begin the journey? She was many things, but mostly she was determined to leave.
At dawn, she heard the men pull their skiffs up on the gravelly beach. Their jovial voices broke the endless monotony of the surf as their boots pounded the sand, stomping to the shed where the balloon was docked. It billowed up, lofty as a mountain, straining at the ropes that held it to the ground. Freya peered out of the gaps in the wicker basket, which was finally being shackled to the balloon. Oh, the excitement was almost electric! Today was the day, all right.