Karen Romano Young, illustrated by Angela Hsieh
What on Earth Books

This book was written by polar explorer, author, artist and much more, Karen Romana Young.
Immediately engaging, her writing is a combination of personal narrative and facts about people, fauna and flora and of course, the land itself, as she takes readers on a trip across the melting continent. We meet her fellow scientists working at Palmer Station and the author’s responses to some of the questions they posed, form part of the narrative including, ‘As the ice retreats and Antarctica warms, what will happen to the seed clouds and the rest of the Antarctic food chain?’

It’s truly alarming to read of the 80% drop in Antarctic krill in the last half century, on account of both global warming and overfishing of the krill, a source of food for penguins.

There’s information on the continent’s geological history, how visitors can get to Antarctica, how researchers manage to stay alive despite the extreme cold and testing terrain,

what happens at a research station, and a look at some of the recent scientific discoveries.

Amazingly a lot of animals do live in this, the world’s coldest, windiest and driest continent, most in or near to the sea: readers are introduced to some of these including nematodes and microscopic tardigrades (nicknamed I discovered herein, ‘water bears’). However if your interest is in the larger creatures, then you’ll be fascinated to read of polar gigantism, a phenomenon still puzzling scientists and which has resulted in massive jellyfish and colossal squid; even the krill here, which form the foundation of the Antarctic food chain, are twice the size of those anywhere else on Earth.

Angela Hsieh (who has also visited Antarctica) provides the illustrations – a helpful complement to the text – and there’s a final, glossary, some source notes and an index.

An excellent resource for youngsters (and others) with an interest in the location, climate change and biology.

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