Book Review: The Indestructible Tom Crean by Jennifer Thermes

Posted January 28, 2023 by meezcarrie in children, historical, Jennifer Thermes / 2 Comments

GENRE: Nonfiction Picture Book (ages 4-8 years)
PUBLISHER: Viking Books for Young Readers
RELEASE DATE: January 24, 2023

Heroic Explorer of the Antarctic

At the turn of the twentieth century, Antarctica is the last unexplored continent. The ice is unforgiving. It can break the human spirit. It takes many men willing to face hardship, danger, and years away from home to journey to this uncharted end of the earth. This is the story of one. His name is Tom Crean.

The Indestructible Tom Crean reveals the incredible true stories of Crean’s adventures on the Discovery, Terra Nova, and Endurance expeditions. He hauls eight-hundred-pound sleds full of supplies, escapes from drifting ice floes, and trudges miles alone across a treacherous ice shelf. When the Endurance becomes trapped in the frozen sea and sinks, it is up to Crean and several others to go for help. They sail a tiny lifeboat through the most violent seas in the world and cross a daunting glacial mountain range by foot in order to save their fellow explorers. Tom Crean’s heroic acts of courage, perseverance, and teamwork inspire the men to keep going.

Through dazzling mapwork and vivid illustrations, Jennifer Thermes brings a formidable landscape and the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration to life.


I was drawn to this children’s book by the cover, not gonna lie. The soft pastels and the combination of watercolors & colored pencils (and salt, apparently. Who knew?!) infuses the icy setting with warmth and sunny vibes. The cozy mood it creates is all the more important considering that the history presented in the account of Tom Crean is at times rather sad. (The dogs. I’m not crying…. you’re crying!) It’s a history, however, that will appeal to the little adventurers among us. From crashing waves to cracking ice, frostbite, seasickness, loneliness, shipwrecks, and mountain climbing, young explorers-at-heart will drink in the vivid scenes and dramatic tales with bated breath.

Bottom Line: The Indestructible Tom Crean by Jennifer Thermes is a beautifully illustrated and educational picture book that would make a nice addition to a homeschool or classroom library. The illustrations are quite eye-catching, varying in style and mood from timelines reminiscent of old newspaper headlines, living maps, stark landscapes, and snapshot cels laid out in film reel succession. Way back when I taught school, my third graders would have LOVED it!  My nephews (1st grade & kindergarten) will definitely enjoy the pictures, though I’m not sure the text will hold their interest for at home ‘fun’ reading. However, in the context of a school lesson, this would assuredly appeal to them over a textbook, making the history come alive for their adventurous minds.

(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)

My Rating: 4 stars / beautiful book!

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Jennifer Thermes is a map illustrator and the authorillustrator of many books for children, including Manhattan: Mapping the Story of an Island, which was an Orbis Pictus Honor Book and a Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Book of the Year. She lives in Connecticut. Please visit

Some Other Books by Jennifer Thermes


What about you? What makes you want to read The Indestructible Tom Crean with a little adventurer in your life?

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