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Imagine if you were given a grant by the National Science Foundation to spend four months in Antarctica to sketch, take pictures, and write home to friends and family. Antarctic Journal is the record of Jennifer Owings Dewey's trek to the bottom of the world: "a planet as remote as the moon in its own way," she writes. Antarctica, home to 100 million penguins, has ice up to three miles thick, covering 98 percent of the land. The author writes her account of this icy-cold adventure at Palmer Station in an accessible journal, sprinkled with letters home and colored-pencil sketches and photographs of various landscapes and Arctic creatures. Discussions of penguin behavior are interrupted by the history of Gondwanaland and continental drift, while snippets about trying to cook krill (the tiny phytoplankton that blue whales eat) in garlic and butter add a comic and personal touch to her adventure. Descriptions of the "green flash" that happens just before sunset, red tide, and a mirage effect called the "fata morgana" (named after the fairy Morgan who built castles in the air) are sure to intrigue and inspire young explorers. This is a charming, personable introduction to a forbidding, fascinating continent. (Ages 8 to 12) --Karin Snelson [via]