Title: Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacific by Raft
Author: Thor Heyerdahl
Major Themes: Polynesia, Peru, South Pacific, Pacific Ocean, Rafts, Boats, Sailing, Adventure, Non-fiction, Oceania
Synopsis: Thor Heyerdahl and a crew of five others set off across the Pacific on a raft to test a theory about human migration.
We’ve been enjoying reading books about unusual trips over the last few years. Though I haven’t written reviews of all of them, we read The Brendan Voyage, The Ra Expeditions, and Kayaks Down the Nile. My 16-year-old son wanted to hear me read Kon-Tiki as well, so he was quite pleased when I was able to locate a copy. I think we all enjoyed it!
Thor Heyerdahl had an idea. He suspected that old Polynesian legends about a white man coming from the direction of the rising sun, to the South Pacific islands, referred to a real person. He also suspected that that real person was the same one that South American legends talked about, a person who had disappeared towards the setting sun. How could this person have crossed the Pacific? Heyerdahl believed that Tiki could have gone on a balsa-log raft—but would such a raft really have been able to reach the islands a couple of thousand miles from the South American coast? There was only one way to find out. Heyerdahl had a raft built according to the designs that the ancient people had used, and assembled a crew of men to sail it.
This book is the account of the voyage from Peru to French Polynesia. It is fascinating to read about the journey and how the raft behaved in the waves. I also enjoyed the stories about the fish that were all around the raft throughout the voyage. The sheer number of fish that the men pulled in is incredible! I was also quite interested in what happened with the coconuts that they took along for food.
If you enjoy real-life adventure stories, try Kon–Tiki. It’s a very different view of the spread of civilization than most other books you’ll read. After reading this book, you won’t think about history in quite the same way again. You’ll wonder how much of the standard history you read is true, after all.
WARNING: There are a few words here and there, but very few. I wasn’t planning to review the book, so didn’t keep track.
Read Aloud—Ages 10 – 13
Reading Independently—Ages 15 and Above, Adults