7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #370: Featuring William Grill

h1 February 23rd, 2014 by jules


“After 16 long months, the crew had found solid ground. Dehydrated and hungry,
each man ate and drank until he was full. But their troubles were not over yet,
as the coastline was exposed to the elements, and a cruel blizzard set in for days …”

(Click to enlarge)

Today’s featured book is Shackleton’s Journey (February 2014), written and illustrated by British artist William Grill. This is a book that marks the centenary since polar explorer Ernest Shackleton’s 1914 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, his attempt with a crew of men to make the first land crossing of Antarctica. It was considered the last expedition of the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration.

Now, let me make something clear about this book right up front. The copy of this book that I have is incomplete. Long story, but think of it as like a sampler, so I will not be able to provide anything like a traditional review. (As noted on this page of my site, I don’t consider 7-Imp a traditional review blog anyway—my focus is more on illustrations—but still … just making clear that I haven’t seen the book in its entirety yet.)

Anywhoozles, with nonfiction it’s especially important to note the back matter of books; in particular, you must ask if the author included his/her sources. I can’t tell you that about this book, since my copy is not complete, but I can tell you the art is beautiful, and that’s going to be my focus today. Also that it comes from Flying Eye Books, the children’s imprint of Nobrow Press, who care about high-quality book production and design. This means it has things like an illustrated cloth spine. (Happy sigh.)

And how about that illustration above? HOO BOY.


“Shackleton … told reporters that he had always been ‘strangely drawn to the mysterious south’ and that unexplored parts of the world
‘held a strong fascination for me from my earliest memories.’”

This is a very detailed and beautifully-conceived piece of nonfiction and includes (I’m talking about my sampler of sorts, that is) maps, diagrams, and lots and lots of drawings. At one moment, you have the type of grand, sweeping spread that you see opening this post, and next you have a spread filled with small figures—Grill gives us such detailed spreads as “Equipment and Supplies”; “The Crew,” noting each and every participant; and even one listing the cargo of 69 dogs chosen for the expedition—and it immediately brings the work of Elisha Cooper to my mind. Fans of Cooper’s illustrations may find that Grill’s work resonates as well. Bruce Handy at the New York Times once wrote that Cooper’s work is “detailed yet impressionistic—no mean feat,” and something similar could be said about Grill’s illustrations in this one.


Left half of the “Dogs” spread
(Click to enlarge)



The “Equipment and Supplies” spread
(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)

Again, I can’t speak for the whole book, but what I’ve seen is paced well, and there’s a great deal of drama. And what’s striking is Grill’s evident fondness for the subject matter at hand, and it makes for a gripping read.

Let’s just take a look at some more art, why don’t we?


Expedition Map
(Click to enlarge)


“Given their current position and condition,
Shackleton now decided to make a dash for Elephant Isalnd, 100 miles away. …”

(Click to enlarge)


“To combat the violent weather, Marston (the artist) had the ingenious idea to turn the boats upside down and convert them into shelters, allowing his oil paints to be used as glue so that canvas sheets could be fixed to the boats for extra waterproofing.”
(Click to enlarge)


“On their trek, the three men encountered unknown mountains shrouded in loose rock and ice, fields of thick snow, gullies, deep crevasses and jigsaw-like glaciers. As well as overcoming such obstacles, they had to battle altitude sickness, dehydration, immense hunger and exhaustion. They were now reaching their limit.”
(Click to enlarge)


“Finally, on 30 August 1916, help arrived for the men on Elephant Island after four failed attempts to reach the island due to heavy ice. …”
(Click to enlarge)

SHACKLETON’S JOURNEY. Copyright © 2014 by William Grill. Published by Flying Eye Books, New York. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher.

* * * * * * *

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) Reading with my girls. It’s an assumed kick all the time, but we’re reading some especially great books this week.

2) This cracked. me. up. when I saw it this week. Evidently, it’s a whole series, but I’m not sure how it can get any better than this one:

My favorite little detail is the sound the children make when the door opens.

3) NPR asked me to do this, but I was busy that day, and my one glam outfit was at the cleaners:

“Amazing” gets overused these days, but that truly is.

4) I’m late seeing this, but it made me laugh outloud. I’ve never been to Portland, but I’d say the Dream of the 1890s is pretty evident with hipsters everywhere, heaven bless them all:

5) Thanks to John for pointing this out to me. So funny.

6) Wow, so many videos today, but this made me laugh a lot, too, especially moment 0:45-0:46.

7) Yesterday, I served as a judge for a scholarship competition for Tennessee deaf and hard of hearing students. It was for Optimist International, and the students gave speeches. It was a good experience; I’ve been missing ASL a lot lately.

BONUS #1: Congratulations, Minh Le!

BONUS #2: I felt truly inspired after talking to Lois Ehlert. I also really love how BIG BookPage posted the images in that interview. That makes this art nerd very happy.

BONUS #3: Babysitting my friends’ toddler. She’s something special, this kid.

BONUS #4: There will be a few new tunes from Rufus in a couple of weeks. “Complainte De La Butte”? YES YES YES. (You can even click right on it in this neato-skeeto interactive sampler. MODERN TECHNOLOGY!)

What are YOUR kicks this week?





10 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #370: Featuring William Grill”

  1. Thanks for sharing the work of William Grill. This looks like it’s going to be a great addition to the library.
    Jules, you must come to Portland! The clip cracked me up. Enjoy reading with the girls.
    My kicks:
    1. Watching Almost Famous last night. I mised it somehow.
    2. Busy hummingbirds.
    3. Reading. I had to stay off all week because of my asthma, a real doozy of a flare-up, so I was able to get three books read.
    4. Book club at my house tonight. the Roundhouse.
    5. Clearing the front garden box yesterday.
    6. Daffodils about to burst.
    7. Fresh oranges, grapefruit, and lemons brought from my friend in Arizona.
    Have a great week.


  2. Good morning, Imps!

    Hi, William! Thank you for sharing your artwork with us.
    That’s a lot of dogs, Shackleton. Wow.

    Jules: Happy reading! Hi to the girls. Have you all see the video called Disney’s The Little Mermaid (Cute Kitten Version) on YouTube? I would link it but I think the dingoes would eat my post. They have many along those lines, but that is my favorite. Thank you for sharing the salesman and the penguin and the piano and more. Congratulations, Mz. Judge!

    Jone: Hope you are feeling better. Rest up! Hummingbirds are precious.

    My kicks from the past week:
    1) Offer
    2) Pre-production meeting
    3) Reaching
    4) Remembering
    5) Laughing
    6) Reading
    7) Two events happening today: acting in a reading, then auditioning!


  3. I am so glad I have this book on order. I have been fascinated with everything to do with Shackleton for years. Thank you William and Jules for the sneak peek.

    Jules: I think your interview with Lois Ehlert is wonderful. Plus I sense a ton of joy in your kicks.
    Jone: Daffodils ready to burst sounds heavenly; snow here is still 18+ inches deep
    Little Willow: Love the laughing…

    My kicks:
    1. Reading great books
    2. Fresh snow
    3. Two days with sunshine
    4. The sound of chickadees
    5. Rabbit tracks in the snow
    6. Unexpected gifts
    7. Walking with Xena (that she can still walk is a blessing)

    Have a wonderful week everyone.


  4. Jone, whenever I make it to Portland, I’ll come find you. … Staying in to read when you’re sick—but not TOO sick—is a kick, indeed.

    Little Willow, you mind-reader, I showed them those videos this week, and I nearly lost my hearing from the girls’ happy squealing. … Break a leg at the audition today!

    Margie, good thing you like snow, right? Are you totally ready for Spring? Also, I too find these polar explorer stories fascinating. Back in my days of sign language interpreting, I interpreted this play for The University of TN, and it was one of the best scripts I’ve ever read.

    Happy week, all!


  5. Those illustrations are gorgeous — I love the color palette. The Shackleton story that’s in our reading book is one of my students’ favorites every year.

    Jules, reading with kids is always a kick! Love the bonus kicks this week :)
    Jone- seeing the first daffodils always makes me so happy and I love hosting book club!
    LW- laughing is always the best kick
    Margie- I’ve never seen fresh animal tracks in the snow and I’ve always wanted to.

    My kicks:
    1) an awesome weekend of laughter with our best college friends
    2) 5 meals in a row of shellfish- there is no better place to eat than Charleston
    3) feeling like a kid again and remembering when my husband was my boyfriend
    4) a freelance opportunity that sounds really exciting – fingers crossed that it works out
    5) reading and writing about a fascinating nonfiction book for elementary schoolers
    6) making a student grin who rarely shows affection
    7) choosing a new charm based on its meaning that makes me feel strong every time I look at it


  6. Shannon, good luck with the freelance opportunity. Fingers crossed for you! Hope the writing is going well, too.


  7. Flyby this morning – but really love the illustrations and subject matter. I’ve been fascinated by Shackleton for years.

    Jules – that npr video – wow! Love her! And I second Jone’s thought – you must come to Portland!

    LW – break as many legs as you need to this week!

    Jone – hummingbirds and reading, nice week.

    Margie – hooray for walks with Xena….

    Shannon – your weekend sounds fabulous, and I love your kick #3 too!

    Have a great week everyone!


  8. Rachel, if I ever make it there, I’ll let you and Jone know right away. Ooh, that’d be fun! Wish I could book a flight now.

    You have a good week too!


  9. Jules, Thanks for sharing this! I’ve read a few adult non-fiction books about Shackleton and the story is riveting. Glad to see it has been so beautifully and thoughtfully adapted for children in this new book.


  10. D’oh–I missed the congrats the first time i read this! Thanks, Jules!


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