“One day my theory was complete. I must go to America and put it forward.”
Thor Hyerdahl, Norwegian Anthropologist, 1946
This biographical story of Thor Hyerdahl’s attempt to prove a divisive theory about human migration from South America to the South Pacific islands, when he and crew set sail from Peru to French Polynesia in 1947. This picture book format of a true historical expedition across the Pacific Ocean follows Hyerdahl and his crew over 4300 nautical miles in 101 days, through boredom, challenges and eventual success. The story is retold, along with quotes from Hyerdahl’s journal, which many deemed impossible in a boat built using traditional methods.
The charcoal, pencil crayon and water colour illustrations stretch across two pages, adding to feelings of this sailing’s enormity. The end covers at the front and back of the book map out their journey on the Pacific Ocean, along with the water currents. Its’ After the Impossible Voyage and short biography of Thor Heyerdahl, at the end of this book, provides background information and greater detail than the voyage itself. It is a good introduction to the study of anthropology and to biographical texts for middle to upper elementary students. It also provides readers with an opportunity to discuss anthropological theories and evidence, as part of a broader inquiry. Readers will enjoy reading about this adventurous example of perseverance for Character Education development. Several documentaries and movies about the Kon-Tiki can be found on YouTube and/or at your public library. Suitable for grades 2-up, depending upon the depth and interest of the topic.