Title: The Antarctic Express
Author: Kenneth Hite & Christina Rodriguez
Publisher: Trident Inc., : Atlas Games
Date Published: 2009
Category: parody, Lovecraftian, children’s
The Antarctic Express is a children’s parody book combining the Polar Express with the Mountains of Madness. I have mixed feelings about these kinds of parodies, generally aimed at adults who think it’s silly to make the Lovecraft Mythos into something cute and cuddly. However, this book won me over.
The book is about sixteen pages long. The book is set up landscape style with the art going across both pages, and a narrow side panel with text.
The art. The art nods to the Polar Express and other children’s art. There are small details that really stand out, like the boy having little Cthulhus on his pajamas and a Miskatonic University banner on his wall. The character’s expressions are hilarious. Rodriguez is really able to capture the looks of fright on the character’s faces, while still making it look like a sweet children’s book. The Old One and Shoggoths were the highlight for me. I just couldn’t stop looking at them and loved how they were portrayed.
The story. The story itself flawlessly condenses At the Mountains of Madness into a bite-size story without losing the underlying themes of the story itself. I was impressed how easily this Lovecraft story meshed with The Polar Express! One of my favorite passages was “We talked about geology and Poe, and ate canned beef and hardtack. We drank cold lime juice, tasting sweet and sour all at once.” The story retains the tone of The Polar Express, so the addition of the Lovecraftian elements with the tone of the stodgy Polar Express narrator makes for some silliness. The ending intertwines the two stories perfectly and is very satisfying. Or insanity-inducing, depending on how the reader feels about such things.
This book may be too grim for very young children, but it is not gory or too terribly terrifying. I would say it is just mildly unsettling. My nine year old, who was familiar with The Polar Express, found this story amusing. I would think that it can be enjoyed by someone who has never read either story, but having read at least one of them would make it more entertaining. The Antarctic Express has a high reread value. I have found myself going back to reread passages and look at the artwork a few times since reading it.