‘I will bet twenty thousand pounds against anyone who wishes that I will make the tour of the world in eighty days or less; in nineteen hundred and twenty hours, or one hundred and fifteen thousand two hundred minutes. Do you accept?’
Thus begins Jules Verne’s rollicking adventure novel Around the World in Eighty Days. Verne’s novel, like his previous books, was an international success. Millions read it and pondered the possibility of racing around the planet Earth. A few intrepid adventurers — for a variety of reasons both known and unknown — decided to attempt the amazing feat.
Have you caught the recent headlines of the amazing Dutch 16-year-old who just completed her journey, sailing solo around the world? Laura Dekker is now the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe. She’s got a million-dollar smile and quite a story to tell.
This fantastic graphic novel by Matt Phelan, tells the stories of three of Laura’s predecessors, three daring individuals who chose to journey around the world. There’s Thomas Stevens, who set out in 1884 to bicycle around the world. Nellie Bly, the spunky reporter for the New York World, who determined in 1889 to beat Phileas Fogg’s record and make the trip in just 74 days. And Joshua Slocum, who sailed his beloved Spray around the world from 1895 to 1898 — the first man ever to sail solo around the globe.
Each of these was quite a different person, with different motivations and back stories to their fabulous adventures. Phelan’s stories encompass the interesting personalities and intriguing journeys of all three. His sophisticated illustrations capture the spirit of each with changes in style and color and even volume of text — Nellie gets the most words; fitting for a newspaper reporter. These really are amazing feats!
I haven’t read many graphic novels, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one and recommend it for perhaps 4th grade and up. The first two tales are accessible to those a bit younger; Joshua Slocum’s story is a bit stranger and darker and may confuse younger readers. As an added bonus, the vocabulary in the book is quite rich, and you’ll get quite a little geography lesson along the way!
Here’s an Amazon link: Around the World