Monday, November 27, 2017

MMGM- Polaris

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe and #IMWAYR day at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. It's also Nonfiction Monday.

Northrop, Michael. Polaris
October 31st 2017 by Scholastic Press
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

When the crew of the Polaris, which is bringing botanical specimens back from the Amazon, realizes that many of the crew died in the jungle, they mutiny. The Cabin boy, Owen, along with the botanist's assistant, Henry, as well as four other young boys, are locked in the captain's cabin and survive, but are not sure they can sail the ship with no crew. They try, with Owen as the acting captain. Before long, we learn an interesting secret about two of the crew members, and the strange smell coming from the dank hold is found to be the zombiefied corpse of a the boy who took the trunk of specimens into the hold. A tropical fungus is turning him into a bug, and the crew thinks long and hard about how to dispatch him, especially when the spores start to spread to other creatures, like the rats in the hold. Of course, there are many other problems on the high seas as the group tries to sail to Florida, where they hope they can bring the ship in and not be sold into slavery. As they approach Cuba, however, all of the crew except for Owen would rather land, especially since they have lost one of their number, another is injured, and they are still fearful of what evils might lurk in the hold.
Strengths: This is historical science fiction. I wondered this, and Northrop addresses it in a note at the end. This was a strong adventure on the sea with some very fun and surprising characters! I would quote my favorite lines, but it would spoil some twists! This is a strong addition to books like Cadnum's Ship of Fire, Dowsell's Powder Monkey, and other seafaring adventures... with the addition of the fungus/zombie monster.
Weaknesses: I am super creeped out by books with descriptions of damp, and it didn't help that I read this on a day where it rained constantly. Had I been on the crew, I would have gone into the hold and dispatched the fungus monster forwith instead of dithering about it. If something smells that bad and damp and rotten... ick. Will students care? No. They'll probably like the gross monster.
What I really think: May put it in the collection because I adore Northrop's work, but feel that maybe it needs it's own shelf, just so the fungus doesn't spread...

Ms. Yingling


  1. This one sounds great as do all your other fun reviews. I laughed out loud at a few of your lines. Have a great week!

  2. Anonymous11:20 AM EST

    LOL. "it needs it's own shelf, just so the fungus doesn't spread" I feel the same way. I got the creeps just thinking about it, and I haven't read the book. Thanks for the laugh. I needed it on this first morning back at work after the holiday.

  3. Wow, this sounds creepy. I'd definitely pick this book up and hope not to have nightmares about fungus.

  4. This will be a welcomed read for boys who love creepy. How exciting to be sailing a boat.

  5. Fun to read your review! I think I know a bunch of kiddos who would love a book about fungus!

  6. Ye, this does sound perfect for boys. I'll see if our system gets copies. Especially so that I could say, "There's a fungus among us!" (Sorry but it was too good to resist)