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Around the World by Matt Phelan

Around the World (edition 2011)

by Matt Phelan, Matt Phelan (Illustrator)

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1491080,266 (3.85)4
Title:Around the World
Authors:Matt Phelan
Other authors:Matt Phelan (Illustrator)
Info:Candlewick (2011), Hardcover, 240 pages
Collections:Read but unowned

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Around the World by Matt Phelan



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Around the World by Matt Phelan is a graphic novel style account of three different late 19th century trips around the world: by bicycle, for the news, and by ship. These are all mini-biographies with the emphasis being on the journeys they took and how those journeys were transformative for the travelers and for the people they met.

The first biography is of Thomas Stevens, a man who became so enamored with the bicycle (and not the modern safety style, but the old high wheeler) that he took his on a ride around the world. Stevens saw the bicycle as a tool for peace and certainly had enough positive experiences to give some weight to that notion.

The next biography covers Nellie Bly's successful attempt to recreate the journey in Around the World in 80 Days but in less time. She had her own problems mostly from resistance because she was a woman traveling alone, and from other newspapers sending competition after her (on higher budgets, meaning they could bribe their way into faster slots), and her own sea sickness and hatred of early mornings. She did however have the brains and stubbornness to accomplish the trip, and the affection of her readers, meaning even if she couldn't bribe her way, she didn't need to.

The last biography is a nautical one. It follows Joshua Slocum who one day said goodbye to his family and set off in his ship for a one man sailing adventure in a time when there wasn't radio or modern day tracking devices. Through personal peril he managed to become the first person to solo sail around the world.

This book has been on my wishlist since it was first published. It lived up to all my expectations and frankly surpassed them. I hope Matt Phelan continues to do these occasional biographies / historical fiction graphic novels along with the many picture books he illustrates. ( )
  pussreboots | Aug 6, 2015 |
I love Phelan's illustrations. They're very emotive and soft and lead themselves to imagining motion and movements.
Out of the three short stories of world travelers I like the final one better and interestingly that seems to be the one story Phelan takes the most artistic liberties. Its a sad and lonely story but I think Phelan really captures why someone would chose to travel around the world alone. Very beautifully done to highlight interesting historical figures not typically covered. ( )
  akmargie | Apr 4, 2013 |
Excellent historical fiction and a stunning graphic novel. ( )
  Sullywriter | Apr 3, 2013 |
The stories of three adventurers and their around the world travels, one by bicycle, one by sailing ship and the third using public transportation, trying to beat the record of Julius Verne's Phineas Fogg. ( )
  lilibrarian | Apr 1, 2013 |
Summary: After the publication of Jules Verne's Around the World in 80 Days, readers everywhere were inspired by the idea of racing around the globe. This graphic novels tells three stories of people who not only dreamt about the possibilities of circumnavigation, but actually went out and did it. First is Thomas Stevens, a coal miner and cycling enthusiast who rode a bicycle (one of the early ones with the big front wheel) around the world in 1884. Next is Nellie Bly, a reporter who set out in 1889 to travel around the world in less time than it took Verne's protagonists, as a publicity stunt in an era when no respectable woman would be seen traveling alone. And finally, Joshua Slocum, who in 1895 sailed away from his New England home aboard his sailboat Spray, and did not return until he'd sailed around the world.

Review: I picked this book of the library shelf on a whim, and I'm so glad I did. To start with, the art was absolutely lovely. It's not a style I would typically gravitate towards, with sketchy pencil lines filled in with watercolor-esque washes of muted color, but the I thought overall effect fit both the time period and the tone of the stories remarkably well. The stories themselves are, on the surface, quite straightforward, and almost deceptively simple. The narration and dialogue boxes are relatively sparse throughout most of the book. This may be an attempt to make this book appeal to younger audiences, and it's certainly appropriate for mid-grade readers. But by letting the art carry a lot of the story forward, Phelan is putting the emotions and motivations of his characters on full display, making what might seem like simple stories into deeply resonant pieces. I noticed this most in Slocum's story, since he has to face not only the terrors of the wide open ocean, but also has to face the ghosts of his own past. This is probably why this book gets shelved as fiction in my library, even though it's about real people and is factually accurate. But all three stories are told really effectively, making this a graphic novel worth picking up no matter where it's shelved. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Definitely recommended for readers of all ages - it's accessible to kids but there's enough here to satisfy adults as well - particularly readers who are fans of Verne's original, who like adventure or exploration stories, or who watch The Amazing Race. ( )
  fyrefly98 | Mar 16, 2013 |
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Challenged with circling the world at the end of the nineteenth century, three very different adventurers--avid bicyclist Thomas Stevens, fearless reporter Nellie Bly, and retired sea captain Joshua Slocum--embark on epic journeys.

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