246. Around the World by Matt Phelan

Around the World by Matt Phelan (Canada) - (US)

Pages: 236
Ages: 10+
Finished: Nov. 13, 2011
First Published: Oct. 11,2011
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Genre: children, graphic novel, historical fiction, biography, world explorers, travel
Rating: 3/5

First sentence:

It all began, as many great adventures begin, with a story.

Acquired: Received a review copy from Candlewick Press.

Reason for Reading:  I enjoy graphic biographies and while I wasn't too impressed with Matt Phelan's Storm in the Barn, thought I'd give him another go.

This is the story of three late 19th century "around the world travelers".  The book opens with the scene from Verne's famous book of the same name where Phileas Fogg makes his bet to travel around the world in 80 days.  It was the publication of this book that inspired many real life adventurous types to set off and do the same thing.  Told separately in three vignettes, the reader is introduced to the stories of three such adventurers, who each wrote a book documenting their travels.  First up is Thomas Stevens a miner, who quits his job, takes up riding the new-fangled invention the bicycle and proceeds to travel around the world via bicycle (this was the penny-farthing bike at the time though he rode the American version).  Next is the story of Nellie Bly, Girl Reporter who set out to beat Phileas Fogg's time and travel the world in 74 days while sending home news reports.  The American public went wild for her stories.  Finally, we are told the story of Joshua Slocum, retired sea captain, who fixes up a dilapidated little boat into a sea-worthy sailing ship and travels the world by sea. 

Each one of the stories is interesting and while having the same theme, unique from one another.  Rather than being just a retelling of events, Phelan has chosen to portray each journey through the person's ultimate reasons as to why they conducted the voyage, their driving force and their eventual personal rewards.  An enjoyable read.  Not overly exciting, but interesting nonetheless.  I can't say I'm particularly fond of Phelan's artistic style; his colours are drab and his watercolours are wishy-washy to my sensibilities, but he is a well known illustrator and obviously many others do appreciate his work.  Certainly a unique topic and combination of stories.


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