From the Publisher
A first-rate pleasure from the acclaimed graphic novelist Phelan. And this book - riveting, wondrously drawn, expertly paced - is a triumph in and of itself.
—The New York Times
With uncommon perception and a flair for visual drama, Phelan tracks three intrepid souls' solo journeys around the world...Three true tales of adventure as grand and admirable in the telling as they were in the doing.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
A graphic novel that will appeal to aficionados of the form and any reader in search of engrossing true journeys.
—School Library Journal (starred review)
The stories encompass such national ideals as dogged can-do spirit, exploration, enterprise, and commercialism...the very essence of determination and adventure.
—Booklist (starred review)
Phelan invests each tale with its own distinct mood and style.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (starred review)
A first-rate pleasure…riveting, wondrously drawn, expertly paced…
The New York Times Book Review
In the wake of Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days, the desire to circumnavigate the globe ran rampant, as Phelan (The Storm in the Barn) illustrates in this oddly unexciting tale of three such adventure seekers. In 1884, Thomas Stevens, a former miner, vows to cross the U.S. by bicycle, then a newfangled mode of transportation. After successfully traveling from coast to coast, Stevens decides to continue on to Europe via ship, and on through India and China before ending his 13,500-mile journey in Japan. Nellie Bly, by far the most interesting globetrotter seen here, departs New York in 1889 as a reporter with the goal of traveling around the world in 74 days, beating Verne's fictional Phileas Fogg. Sending dispatches back during her long steamer and train journey—during which she briefly meets Verne in France—Bly's ticking clock adds an element of suspense. Finally, in 1892, Massachusetts sea captain Joshua Slocum sets sail alone on the Spray, intending to sail around the world. Despite visitations from his dead wife and rough weather to liven up the voyage, his journey is comparatively dull. Little differentiates the three stories visually and the elements begin to blur, the result as flat as a breezeless sea. Ages 9–12. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Michael Jung PhD
In the late nineteenth century, Jules Verne thrilled readers with his novel Around the World in Eighty Days. But for three intrepid explorers, the book was more than just a fictional adventureit was a reflection of their own attempts to circumnavigate the globe! Now, graphic novelist Matt Phelan chronicles all three of these true storiesfrom former miner Thomas Stevens' hilarious 1884 attempt to ride around the world on a bicycle, to reporter Nellie Bly's highly publicized 1889 attempt to circle the world in only seventy-four days, to the lonely voyage of retired sea captain Joshua Slocum, who made his solo three-year journey around the world on a thirty-six foot sloop. While Phelan based each story on first-hand accounts written by the adventurers, the sheer length of their journeys necessitate some editing, and a number of notable stops on each trip are whittled down to single illustrations. Moreover, as Phelan admits in his Author's Note, the stories are colored by Phelan's impressions of each traveler's motivations and personal historiescausing him to delve into more surrealistic storytelling, particularly in his haunting telling of Slocum's voyage, which shows the sea captain encountering hallucinations of his dead wife and a ghost pilot. The result is a collection of tales that can often be stranger than fiction, yet one that will leave readers eager to check out the original books and get the full story from each explorer. Reviewer: Michael Jung, PhD
School Library Journal
Gr 3–8—Phelan presents three true stories of around-the-world adventures inspired by Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days that, even though they were undertaken in the late 1800s, would be hardly less arduous today. Thomas Stevens, Joshua Slocum, and Nellie Bly saw the world from the seat of a bicycle, aboard a 36-foot sloop, and via trains and ships, respectively. The small, specific pleasures of Phelan's work—the faces of miners emerging from the darkness as they converse, the way slanting rays of sun illuminate a large interior, the expression on Bly's face as she eavesdrops on steamship sailors singing—are showcased in panels laid out in horizontal bands, reinforcing the linear, ever-onward nature of each narrative. The use of limited color palettes enhances the artist's characteristic delicate, expressive pen-and-ink drawings without overpowering them, allowing each traveler's character to be the dominant story element: Stevens's optimism and determination, Slocum's loneliness, and Bly's dogged self-reliance. The stories begin with a set of maps and end with epilogues. A list of sources, most of them primary accounts by the travelers themselves, appears at the end of the book. Design elements such as borders and frames lend a jaunty festivity to a graphic novel that will appeal to aficionados of the form and any reader in search of engrossing true journeys.—Paula Willey, Baltimore County Public Library, Towson, MD