A Scott O'Dell Award-winning graphic novelist follows three dauntless adventurers on a Jules Verne-inspired challenge: circling the world, solo!
As the nineteenth century wound down, a public inspired by the novel Around the World in Eighty Days clamored for intrepid adventure. The challenge of circumnavigating the globe as no one ever had before--a feat assuring fame if not fortune--attracted the fearless in droves. Three hardy spirits stayed the course: In 1884, former miner Thomas Stevens made the journey on a bicycle, the kind with a big front wheel. In 1889, pioneer reporter Nellie Bly embarked on a global race against time that assumed the heights of spectacle, ushering in the age of the American celebrity. And in 1895, retired sea captain Joshua Slocum quietly set sail on a thirty-six-foot sloop, braving pirates and treacherous seas to become the first person to sail around the world alone. With cinematic pacing and deft, expressive art, acclaimed graphic novelist Matt Phelan weaves a trio of epic journeys into a single bold tale of three visionaries who set their sights on nothing short of the world.
Grades 4-7. Chronicling the true trip-around-the-world adventures of three nineteenth-century adventurers gives Phelan the opportunity to once again examine the Great American Narrative, as he did so effectively in his beautifully mythological The Storm in the Barn (Booklist Top of the List, 2009). While examining Thomas Stevens’ bicycle journey, feminist-ahead-of-her-time reporter Nellie Bly’s race to beat Phileas Fogg’s imaginary record, and Joshua Slocum’s solitary globe circumnavigation on a sailboat, Phelan does not fail to explore their inner journeys as well. Though any one of the tales (particularly Bly’s) could well have supported an entire book, juxtaposing the three allows Phelan to cast a wider psychological net, and the stories encompass such national ideals as dogged can-do spirit, exploration, enterprise, and commercialism, while never straying from the characters’ personal worlds or out of age-appropriate territory. In addition to tight research and a gift for evoking both an era and the personalities that lived in it, the stories are greatly abetted by the magic of Phelan’s art: washes of light and dark that set the tone and effortless, uncomplicated (yet highly distinctive) faces that are the very essence of determination and adventure.