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I, Matthew Henson: Polar Explorer
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I, Matthew Henson: Polar Explorer

3.67  ·  Rating Details  ·  75 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
Matthew Henson was not meant to lead an ordinary life. His dreams had sails.
They took him from the port of Baltimore, around the world, and north to the pole.
No amount of fear, cold, hunger, or injustice could keep him from tasting adventure and exploring the world.
He learned to survive in the Arctic wilderness, and he stood by Admiral Peary for years on end, all for the
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published December 26th 2007 by Walker Childrens
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Mar 06, 2016 Christiane rated it really liked it
The first time I ever heard about Matthew Henson was in this exceptional picture book account of his life. Born to sharecropper parents in 1866, Henson first went to sea as a thirteen-year-old cabin boy. He would later make seven trips to the Arctic with Robert Peary. On April 6, 1909, he and Peary (and four Eskimo) were the first to reach the North Pole. Sadly, his role was almost immediately discredited and downplayed; it was not until many years later that he received the recognition he deser ...more
Chelsea Yarworth
I, Matthew Henson: Polar Explorer is a biography for fourth grade and up. This book won the Black Eyed Susan Award. This story is about how Matthew Henson accomplished his dreams to become a famous explorer. We learn throughout the story he was the first person to reach the North Pole. The reason I'm giving this book 3 stars is because it has a lot of factual information on each page. The text starts out with a sentence that would be hard for younger children to understand. This book is in an ea ...more
Nov 02, 2010 Zak rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
This book was ok, but how the author wrote it made it make no sense.
Robin Gaphni
Jun 14, 2009 Robin Gaphni rated it liked it
I love a book where you come away with knowledge of someone or something you had absolutely no idea existed. In I, Matthew Henson: Polar Explorer, I learned about Matthew Henson, who together with Robert Peary became the first men to reach the North Pole.

I, Matthew Henson is written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Eric Velasquez. Through poetry, it tells the life story of Matthew Henson, an African American man with big dreams of exploring the world. Born in 1866, Henson lived in
Jan 21, 2010 Connie rated it really liked it
The writing of the book makes this clear - every new spread repeats how Matthew Henson didn't persevere against some hardship - be it the environment, prejudice, hunger (they have to eat their sled dogs at one point, so if your kids are especially sensitive, be ready for it!), or superstition - in order to give up or fail at that point.

Matthew Henson, of course, actually existed and actually helped Peary reach the North Pole. In his words, he was the FIRST one there, in fact, but it's hard to k
• The oil pastel illustrations are beautiful and convey the majesty and wonder of the arctic landscape.
• Weatherford’s choice to start off all of the text blocks with the phrase “I did not…” communicates the hard work, struggle, and determination of Matthew Henson to accomplish his dream of making a place for himself in history, as well as the prejudices that Henson experienced. However, because of the choice to include “I did not…” it might be somewhat confusing to younger readers who do not un
This picture book biography is great for point of view. Written in the first person with a strong air of determination and grit on the part of Matthew Henson, this book chronicles the important role Matthew Henson played in the expeditions of Admiral Peary and his uncredited role as the first man to reach the North Pole with Admiral Peary.

Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
The reason I'm giving this 2 stars is because on each page the text starts out with a sentence that is, in my opinion, confusing. For example, "I did not sail to the tropics just to launder shirts and cook meals. I meant to prove myself as an explorer." She states what he did not mean to do or mean to happen before stating what did happen. I found this confusing and I think kids will too. A couple of sentences like that would have been ok, but not a whole book of them.
I liked the pictures, but t
Jun 18, 2008 Jean rated it really liked it
This is a beautifully illustrated (by Eric Velasquez) overview of the life of Matthew Hensen. The illustrations are extraordinary in their use of pastels to create the feeling of cold and desolation in the polar regions. In a few short sentences Weatherford is able to tell the episodes of his life and why he remains a well-known figure in exploration. Weatherford uses the pattern of starting each episode with "I did not..." to set the tone for Hensen's determination to make something of his life ...more
I liked this book though the text structure can be a bit difficult. Each page follows a, "He didn't do this to not do that," structure that just kind of got in the way of the story at times. Still, it's a creative scaffold and I enjoyed the book either way. Weatherford is a master of presenting history that is comprehensible and engaging and this book is no different. The illustrations by Eric Velasquez are rich and detailed, very realistic. I would recommend this book to middle grade readers wi ...more
Ms Khan
Feb 26, 2016 Ms Khan rated it really liked it
Beautiful illustrations and factual information presented in an easy to read format. The wording might be a bit tricky for younger readers to understand without adult assistance.
Mar 01, 2013 Kristin rated it liked it
I had never heard of Matthew Henson - which is a travesty. I've heard a lot about Robert Peary, first explorer to reach the North Pole, but I had no idea his traveling companion was a black man. I learned a lot from this book, which has inspired me to learn more about Matthew Henson. I gave it a 3 because I was turned off by the writing style. Every page starts with "I didn't" do something so that something else could happen. It's distracting and for me had a negative connotation. I would have p ...more
Renee Brown
Jan 16, 2016 Renee Brown rated it really liked it
Very informative and moving. A pleasure to read.
Nov 30, 2010 Tara rated it did not like it
Way too LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG of a book! Yes, it hit the historical facts but it was dull and the length could have been cut in half. I had to read this book to the class and it took forever and I gained only a few of the student's attention. Even my cooperating teacher agreed that this book was not a good read aloud book. She hadn't read it before but thought that it would be good. It was not. The way the book was written was in a factoral way and the story wasn't engaging like you'd think it mig ...more
Abby Johnson
Mar 19, 2008 Abby Johnson rated it really liked it
This gorgeous picture book uses spare, powerful language to describe the adult like and explorations of Matthew Henson. He was an African-American explorer who, after several failed attempts, eventually made it to the North Pole. The prose was poetic and I think it'd make a great readaloud for older grade-school kids. It certainly sparked an interest in me and I look forward to finding out more details about Henson's life and travels.
While I mostly really liked this book, the distinct writing style chosen "I did not ... only to..." (which is on every page) starts to wear a bit, and by the end I found it annoying. However, that should not dissuade anyone from purchasing the book for their library, still a very good choice for the biography section.
Apr 09, 2012 Tessa rated it really liked it
Shelves: school-books
I love great picture books for teaching me fun stuff! Oh, yeah, they teach the kids, too. I didn't know anything much about this expedition and only knew Peary's name so I'm so glad I read this book. Maybe I should look for a grown up biography to read - do you think it will have such fun pictures?
Nov 20, 2009 Meghan rated it liked it
A story about how an average man followed his dreams to become a famous explorer. He goes on to be the first person to reach the north pole. The story is written as fiction instead of non-fiction. At the end of the story, there is a brief summary of Matthew Henson's life.
Anne Broyles
Oct 19, 2008 Anne Broyles rated it it was amazing
I always count on Weatherford for important topics, good writing, and a pull on my heartstrings. This is another book I read several times in order to feel the rhythm of the author's structure and her choice of words.
Amy Carr
Oct 17, 2013 Amy Carr rated it it was ok
Loved the subject matter but thought the writing and execution of the story were terrible! I am looking forward to finding another book on this great explorer. I really was distracted by the terrible writing...
Jun 01, 2010 Martha rated it really liked it
A great inspirational story; never give up.
Dec 22, 2008 Arien rated it really liked it
Possible book club book (boys)
Nayeli Brooks
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Jul 09, 2016
Stacey rated it liked it
Jul 08, 2016
Anders Friesen
Anders Friesen marked it as to-read
Jul 04, 2016
Evelyn rated it really liked it
May 20, 2016
Kelsie Taylor
Kelsie Taylor rated it liked it
Apr 17, 2016
Laurel added it
Apr 17, 2016
Sonia Allison
Sonia Allison marked it as to-read
Apr 10, 2016
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Carole Boston Weatherford is a children's book author and poet who "mines the past for family stories, fading traditions, and forgotten struggles." A number of Weatherford's books tell the stories of African-American historical figures such as Harriet Tubman, Jesse Owens, and Billie Holiday. Other books recount historical events such as the Greensboro Sit-ins and the bombing of the Sixteenth Stree ...more
More about Carole Boston Weatherford...

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