Survival At 40 Below
by Debbie S. Miller

Price at time of review: $17.99
40 pp.
Walker & Company
New York, NY
ISBN: 9780802798152

Grade Level: 3-5

Reviewed by Daniel Kujawinski
adjunct professor

Using degrees Celsius or the older English system’s degrees Fahrenheit, 40 below is their only common point and is very cold indeed. This extreme cold is common in northern Alaska, as portrayed by the detailed drawings and beautiful prose in this book, which earned a designation as an NSTA/CBC Outstanding Science Trade Book for 2011. Much of the environment described in the book can be found in the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, America’s most northern national park, located above the Arctic Circle.

Just as the animals of the Arctic have many adaptations, this book has many potential educational adaptations as well. The book’s theme can support the various standards and curricula requirements teachers must incorporate into their lesson planning in the middle and secondary years. Website information claims that the book is written for ages 7 and up, but I feel would be most useful beginning in the fifth grade. The art work is excellent and the written words flow smoothly and usually clearly. However, the glossary is limited and there are no pronunciation guides. (For example, students may puzzle at a term like qiviut, which is an Inupiaq word meaning Musk Ox underwool.) The sounds of many of the region's animals (such as ptarmigan and musk oxen) described in the text can be heard on the park's website. There is also a modest listing of additional electronic and print media in which to find additional information if the teacher and/or student has the interest.

Review posted on 12/10/2010

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