The Impossible Voyage of Kon-Tiki
written and illustrated by Deborah Kogan Ray
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher
It is my intention to prove that the journey is feasible.
Norwegian anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl spent a year on a Polynesian island. While there, he saw stone carvings that he connected to similar statues in South America. Could the two cultures be related? Not many other than Heyerdahl believed this, so he decided recreate the voyage that would show how these cultures could have met. In late April of 1947, Heyerdahl and a crew of five set out from Peru on a balsa log raft. Despite the misgivings of experts, the raft held together as it traveled towards the islands of the South Pacific. Far away from the human world, the crew was kept company by pilot fish and dolphins. A little more than two months into the journey, they encountered a massive storm that did enough damage to set them adrift and at the mercy of the wind. The crew held on to hope as they used a shortwave radio to send a distress call. One hundred and one days after starting this voyage, the Kon-Tiki crew landed on an uninhabited island in Polynesia. The journey was indeed possible.
I remember being intrigued by the Kon-Tiki expedition when I read Thor Heyerdahl's book in high school English class. I'm excited that I can share that interest with students now. When you open the book, you see on the inside cover a terrific map that shows the path of the voyage and the direction of the currents in the Pacific Ocean. The illustrations are eye-catching and the text will keep readers engaged. Ray builds suspense when needed as readers wonder if this band of explorers will be able to complete the journey. I appreciate the back matter that includes a biography of Thor Heyerdahl and information about how his journey was received. The Impossible Voyage of Kon-Tiki would be an excellent addition to a biography unit and/or a unit on exploration.