How High Can We Climb?: The Story of Women Explorers

Overview

A celebration of remarkably brave women

In 1766, young Jeanne Baret is housekeeper to Dr. Philibert Commerson, a physician turned naturalist for the King of France. When Dr. Commerson is invited to participate in a long, exploratory sea voyage, collecting specimens, Jeanne wants to go, too. The only way is to disguise herself as a boy and steal aboard the ship. This is how Jeanne Baret becomes the first woman to sail around the world. Such determination characterizes each of the...

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Petricic, Dusan New York 2005 Hardcover New in new jacket The story of Women Explorers. Enhanced by thoughts and dialogue imagined by the author, the stories of 12 female ... explorers--sailors, mountain climbers, and deep-sea divers--are brought to life with clever pictures that celebrate these remarkably brave women. Read more Show Less

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Overview

A celebration of remarkably brave women

In 1766, young Jeanne Baret is housekeeper to Dr. Philibert Commerson, a physician turned naturalist for the King of France. When Dr. Commerson is invited to participate in a long, exploratory sea voyage, collecting specimens, Jeanne wants to go, too. The only way is to disguise herself as a boy and steal aboard the ship. This is how Jeanne Baret becomes the first woman to sail around the world. Such determination characterizes each of the twelve women profiled here ? including Josephine Peary, Sylvia Earle, Junko Tabei, and Ann Bancroft. They come from across the globe, and their lives span about 240 years. Their accomplishments are real and their stories ? enhanced by thoughts and dialogue imagined by the author to bring them to life ? are contained within a framework of known facts.

These tales of sailors, cavers, mountain climbers, deep-sea divers, and other explorers, combined with Dusan Petricic?s clever pictures, will inspire a new generation of dreamers.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Fourteen lively stories of selected women explorers pack this book with tales of dreams, obstacles, and perseverance. Jeanne Baret disguised herself as a boy to join an 18th century expedition with naturalist Philibert Commerson. Elisabeth Casteret, when between pregnancies, joined her husband Norbert in exploring caves and discovered some of the earliest cave paintings. Junko Tabei founded a woman's mountain climbing group and faced avalanches and oxygen deprivation to become the first woman to scale Everest. Ann Bancroft used a sled, walked, skied, and sailed to reach both poles of our world. The author blends the women's true stories with fictionalized dialogue to create a whole picture of the women and their worlds. She gracefully deals with marriage and family issues while detailing the many obstacles faced and successes hard-won. Particularly interesting were the end-of-chapter notes, which offer insight into the biographical process and the totality of the women's lives. This book is definitely in the creative nonfiction category, but will offer readers many different models of "following a dream." Each chapter is engagingly headed with a question, "How Deep Can We Dive?" or "How Far Can a River Flow?," and is introduced with an illustration. Back matter includes an author's note, important years in women's exploration history, and a list of selected books and web sites. 2005, Farrar Straus Giroux, Ages 12 up.
—Elisabeth Greenberg
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-A dozen determined women star in accounts that reveal the hardships and obstacles they persistently overcame to reach their goals. Mountain climber Annie Smith Peck spent several years and made many attempts before becoming the first woman to summit Peru's Mount Huascar n. She continued to climb mountains into her 80s. In 1988, Australian Kay Cottee became the first woman to complete a solo, nonstop voyage around the world in a 37-foot-long sloop. Others such as American Josephine Peary, Hungarian Florence Baker, and French spelunker Elisabeth Casteret, accompanied their husbands into wild and dangerous territories. Simple cartoon-style drawings at the beginning of each tale and some full-page scenes provide respite from uninterrupted pages of text, although they sometimes belie the life-threatening situations recounted here. Only a few of these women are included in similar compilations. Milbry Polk and Mary Tiegreen's generously illustrated Women of Discovery (Crown, 2001) and Michele B. Slung's Living with Cannibals and Other Women's Adventures (National Geographic, 2000) both present their subjects' tales in a straightforward manner while Atkins creates a realistic narrative complete with conversational exchanges. The bibliography lists primary sources for all but Jeanne Baret and Arnarulunguaq, but it is still likely that many of the conversations are surmised rather than exact. A compilation such as this one is certainly welcome to help complete the picture of human discovery that truly depended on the efforts of both men and women.-Ann G. Brouse, Steele Memorial Library, Elmira, NY Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In a heightened voice both dramatic and romantic, Atkins tells 12 stories of women who did amazing things. Jeanne Baret was the first woman to sail around the world, but her tale is relatively unknown: Nobody knows exactly what her last name was, or the name of the village where she died in 1816, or even precisely when she was born in France. Florence von Sass Baker accompanied her husband's search for the source of the Nile-after he rescued her from white slavery in Hungary. Elisabeth Casteret explored the caves of the Pyrenees even while pregnant, describing crystal caves as "like being inside a diamond." Junko Tabei answers the title query by climbing Mt. Everest (called Chomolungma, the mother goddess of the world, in Nepal). Sailing around the world alone, reaching the South Pole and exploring the ocean depths are a few more of these astonishing women's quests, and while Atkins's tone can get a little wearing, the truth is that these mostly unknown women accomplished extraordinary feats. Great for school reports. (author's note, timeline, bibliography) (Collective biography. 10+)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374335038
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 8/31/2005
  • Pages: 224
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Jeannine Atkins is the author of Wings and Rockets, which appeared on the ALA Amelia Bloomer Project list. She lives in western Massachusetts.

Dusan Petricic lives in Toronto, Ontario.

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