For those of you who don’t live in book world, Kirkus takes pride in being the toughest trade reviewers out there.* A good Kirkus review is gold. A star is a wonder!** Look look at these lovely words for A Race Around the World:
Rose (Ride On, Will Cody!, 2017, etc.) explores the true story of a race between two accomplished 19th-century women in this children’s book featuring illustrations by Bye (Leading the Way, 2019).
In 1889, famed reporter Nellie Bly believed that she could circle the globe faster than anyone had before—in less than the 80 days of Jules Verne’s fictional hero. She pitched the story to her boss at the New York World, who, after initial protests, approved her journey. As Bly left New York City, heading east, Cosmopolitan writer Elizabeth Bisland was sent off to the west, with little notice, to race Bly back to the city. In this entry in the She Makes History series, Rose reports the travels of both women in tandem, showing the eastward movement of Bly and the westward travel of Bisland as the reporters encountered successes and setbacks. Rose’s text and Bye’s cartoon-style color images, which accurately and vividly depict the era in detail, allow young readers to get a deeper sense of what living in the late 1800s was like, and how travel, by various methods, was very different than it is in the modern day. The extensive text never overwhelms the illustrations, though, and Bye depicts the players in action-oriented poses that propel the story forward. One particularly elegant two-page spread shows the two travelers’ ships literally passing in the night. Rose captures both the wonder of the world as the women experience it, as well as the dangers and miseries of their journeys. Her straightforward vocabulary and accessible narration will let young readers immerse themselves in the history. Endnotes offer greater context for the role of women reporters of the era, highlighting the main characters’ tremendous achievements.
An absorbing account of a real-life adventure in a series that showcases historical accomplishments of women.
So happy to know this review will help even more readers learn of Nellie and Elizabeth’s story.
*Jane Friedman defines trade reviews as “those read by booksellers, librarians, and others who work inside the industry (as opposed to readers/consumers).” They are the primary way these gatekeepers discover new titles to share with the public.
**My only other Kirkus star was for May B.