Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Snow Baby: The Arctic Chilhood of Admiral Robert E. Peary's Daring Daughter

THE SNOW BABY: THE ARCTIC CHILDHOOD OF ADMIRAL ROBERT E. PEARY'S DARING DAUGHTER; Katherine Kirkpatrick; New York: Holiday House, 2007; 47pgs. Biography

Most of us learned in elementary school about Commodore Robert E. Peary's attempts to reach the North Pole, and, in later years, about whether or not he actually was the first to arrive. What one may not know about is Robert and Josephine Peary's daughter Marie Ahnighito, born in Greenland and raised, for many years of her young life, in the Arctic regions. The hero of this fascinating book is not Commodore Peary after all, but Marie's mother Josephine, who melded Victorian sensibilities with an expansive view of the world and of her Inuit neighbors in raising her daughter. As a child, Marie dressed in skins and fur, played happily indoors during the long Arctic night, and outdoors with her Inuit friends Koodlooktoo and Billy Bah, and their sled dogs. Marie's story is extraordinary, as is her mother Josephine's--a woman born to privilege who thought her place was with her husband and who learned to hunt caribou and to defend herself against attacking walruses. Parents should be aware that Kirkpatrick touches as lightly and as tastefully as possible on Commodore Peary's extramarital activities with an Inuit woman. Lovely black and white photographs of Marie and her family complement Kirkpatrick's text.

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