Simon Schwartz combines biography and fiction and explores the life of Arctic adventurer Matthew Henson in the form of a graphic novel. The story moves between different time periods. Schwartz also lets Inuit mythology take center stage. Henson faced many challenges during his life. He was a member of early missions to reach the North Pole where he had to survive in subzero temperatures and take on glaciers.
Matthew Henson was an African American during a time of prejudice. Through skill and determination, he won a place on an arctic expedition. Because he was African American, he didn't receive the same credit as his teammates. However, Henson did win the respect of the native peoples he met during his journeys. Find out more about all he overcame.
This book is very different from many of the other graphic novels out there right now. The topic is serious, and the lack of text makes you really have to think through the illustrations. For a graphic novel, I found myself reading through it very slowly. There are multiple stories to keep track of as well as time lines. The themes are big: prejudice, honesty, survival, environmental and responsibility.
As an artist, I appreciate the layering of the images to let the story unfold. I don't know if this book would appeal to a wide audience. The graphics are all done in hues of blue, black and gray. I think an older audience would appreciate this book.