Wednesday 5 February 2014

Great Explorers: Journeys into the unknown by land, sea and air

Great Explorers: Journeys into the unknown by land, sea and air by Stewart Ross, illustrated by Stephen Biesty (Walker Books)
PB RRP $19.95
ISBN 9781406348668
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

Great Explorers begins with Pytheas the Greek, who travelled to the Arctic in a coracle; also called a currach. He is one of the earliest explorers to record his travels and his methods in On the Ocean, and leads the list of explorers of land, sea and air presented in chronological order in this magnificent production. The ships and other methods of transport, type of exploration and equipment used, are all represented in illustrations of extraordinary detail. These include: air balloons, airship, bathyscaphe, mountaineer’s clothing and climbing and camping equipment, and space rockets. Each component is labelled, and the fitting together is explained along with how they work.

Viking Lief Eriksson reached the Americas 500 years before Christopher Columbus. How do we know this? The answer is in the Mystery of Vinland. When Marco travelled with the other Polos along the Silk Road in camel caravans, they stopped over in a caravanserai, an inn for caravans. An illustration of this, too, is reproduced in minute detail. Every entry between the covers is food for the mind.

A great deal of research and preparation has gone into this amazing book. It has 11 sections and unfolding cross-sections that open up onto a complete picture or map. It is definitely a collector’s must have, due to the rich narrative combined with Stephen Biesty’s stunning work. It educates and informs and is an ideal reference book for the private bookshelf, Council, and school libraries.

Children, lovers of history, ships and exploration will treasure this incredible book’s beauty and valuable content.

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