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Lives of the Explorers: Discoveries, Disasters (and What the Neighbors Thought)

Lives of the Explorers: Discoveries, Disasters (and What the Neighbors Thought)

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Lives of the Explorers: Discoveries, Disasters (and What the Neighbors Thought)

110 pages
57 minutes
Aug 26, 2014


Learn about the real lives of the daring and adventurous people who have sailed the seas, explored new worlds, and rocketed into space . . .
You might know that Columbus discovered America, Lewis and Clark headed west with Sacajawea, and Sally Ride blasted into outer space. But what do you really know about these bold explorers? What were they like as kids? What pets or bad habits did they have? And what drove their passion to explore unknown parts of the world? With juicy tidbits about everything from favorite foods to first loves, Lives of the Explorers reveals these fascinating adventurers as both world-changers and real people.
The entertaining style and solid research of this series of biographies have made it a favorite with families and educators for twenty years. This new volume takes readers through the centuries and across the globe, profiling the men and women whose curiosity and courage have led them to discover our world.
Includes color illustrations and maps
“Readers will enjoy delving into the exploits of intrepid explorers across time, and, literally, space.” —Kirkus Reviews
Aug 26, 2014

À propos de l'auteur

Kathleen Krull has garnered starred reviews and awards for her many books. The Children's Book Guild of Washington, DC, honored her with its Nonfiction Award for her body of work that "has contributed significantly to the quality of nonfiction for children." She lives in San Diego, California. Visit her online at www.kathleenkrull.com.

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Lives of the Explorers - Kathleen Krull


1. Sally Ride

2. Sacajawea

3. Marco Polo

4. Matthew Henson

5. James Cook

To discover new countries, to climb the highest peaks, to travel through new areas of celestial space, to turn our searchlights upon domains of eternal darkness, that is what makes life worth living.


Tianfei, the Chinese goddess of sailors and seafarers

Text copyright © 2014 by Kathleen Krull

Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Kathryn Hewitt

All rights reserved. For information about permission to reproduce selections from this book, write to trade.permissions@hmhco.com or to Permissions, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 3 Park Avenue, 19th Floor, New York, New York 10016.


Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication data is available.

ISBN 978-0-15-205910-1

eISBN 978-0-544-30149-8


Welcome to Cassius and Julius, current and future explorers.


To Steve and Yong

(Man was born with legs, not roots. R. Buckminster Fuller)



Exploring the unknown: it’s what humans do. Since the beginning of time, we have wanted to know what else might be out there.

Though many explorers are lost to history, we know some by name. Here, presented chronologically, are the biographies of twenty bright stars of geography. Other books trace the east-west-north-south details of their journeys to faraway countries (referred to here by their present-day names, though they might have been called something else in the past). This book is about the explorers as human beings—warts, egos, and all. Some were not well-liked by their neighbors or anyone else; many were cruel. But all were bold and determined. These were men and women who took a deep breath, got up out of their chairs, and went adventuring by land, sea, or air.

Their motives varied. Many were lured by glamour and the possibility of riches. Others were driven by curiosity or a passion for expanding human knowledge about the world. Still others wanted to escape the boredom of their settled lives. The journey of a heroic explorer—especially if he or she was a good writer, which many of these were—often inspired others to get moving.

The stress of facing the unknown day after day is not for the faint of heart. Homesickness was the least of an explorer’s problems. Who had to follow a path of bones—human and animal—across the sands of the Sea of Death? (Polo.) Whose cat screamed across the deck, warning of disaster? (Hudson’s.) Which explorer had a young crew of more than 250, of whom only eighteen made it home? (Magellan.) Who lost eleven of his crew to cannibals? (Cook.) Who was accidentally shot by one of his own men? (Lewis.) Who emerged from a swamp covered in black slime and leeches, weak from loss of blood? (Kingsley.) Which ones got totally lost? (Columbus—and many others.) Who survived kidnapping? (Battuta and Boone.) Who was taunted, spat at, stoned, and had people try to break down her door? (Bird.)

And some explorers failed to survive at all. Their trips were life-or-death journeys with every possible danger, few conveniences, and no GPS.

Many of the courageous people here were inspired by books about explorers that they’d read in childhood. May this book inspire you to also forge new paths, remaining brave and full of wonder even when everything ahead of you is unknown.

—Kathleen Krull


Leif Ericson

BORN IN ICELAND(?), 970(?)


Viking famed as the first European to set foot in North America

Even baby Vikings knew their way around a boat, and Leif Ericson knew more than most. He grew up on a cliff overlooking the ocean, in a house made of mud and stone. His dad, Eric the Red, had come from Scandinavia and discovered Greenland, and the family settled in one of its nicer areas. But the winters seemed endless, and there were no trees—no green (ironically), no shade, no timber for building houses.

Ericson grew up hearing magical tales of lands covered with forests. At about age twenty-one, taking along some thirty others, he set out to find them.

In sagas told around the fire for the next ten centuries, Ericson was a large, strong man, of very striking appearance and wise, as well as being a man of moderation in all things. Vikings in general were more famous for fierceness than moderation. They carried weapons at all times (axes, swords, arrows, spears), wore shirts made of bearskin, and howled like wolves to frighten their enemies.

Aboard ship, Ericson’s men ate fresh whale, seal, or caribou. At night they passed the time with stories about Thor and other gods. They played a game similar to chess; they carved spoons or figurines of gods from wood or bone. They doubled up to sleep in the animal-skin sacks that they used for holding tools.

Ericson landed in North America very pleased indeed: temperatures were above freezing, huge salmon jumped out of the rivers, the green grass would feed the livestock, and the landscape was dense with trees. He spent the winter and then sailed home, his boat loaded with precious timber.

His voyage inspired other explorers, while Ericson stayed in Greenland as the master of his estate. When he died at about age fifty, he left it

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