It Can't Be Done, Nellie Bly! A Reporter's Race Around the World
by Nancy Butcher; illus by Jen Singh
144 pages, ages 7-10
I confess, I wanted to read this book because I remember sneaking into the school library to read Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days sometime in fourth grade. Traveling around the world seemed like such an adventure … something I would have done at the drop of a hat.
I also wanted to read this book because I’m a reporter – and Nellie Bly is my hero. Instead of writing about conventional women’s topics (tea parties, charity events) she wrote about social problems of her day: poor work conditions, lack of decent housing, crooked politicians.
But mostly I wanted to read this book because it’s a grand adventure. In 1889 Nellie Bly took off on a round-the-globe trip to see if a person could, indeed, make it in 80 days or less. No one had done it, outside of Verne’s fantasy. She had to convince her newspaper that this would be a worthwhile investment, and promised to send stories along the way – without cell phone or blogs!
She traveled light, packing only a small satchel and wearing a sturdy travel dress for the nearly three-month venture. She journeyed by ship, train and foot, timing her connections down to the minute and almost missing some. Then, unbeknownst to her, another newspaper decided to send its own reporter to try to beat Nellie Bly home.
A reporter, a race against time, and a pet monkey… what’s not to like? And at the end of the book, author Nancy Butcher provides some additional reading and more details about Nellie’s life and the race. Review copy provided by publisher.