Away With Words: The Daring Story of Isabella Bird
by Lori Mortensen, Illustrated by Kristy Caldwell
Peachtree Publishers (March 1, 2019)
Audience: Ages 7 to 10
Nonfiction * Biography * Women
Indiebound | WorldCat
Description from GoodReads:
"Isabella Bird was like a wild vine stuck in a too-small pot. She needed more room. She had to get out. She had to explore."
Exploring was easier said than done in Victorian England. But Isabella persisted, and with each journey, she breathed in new ways to see and describe everything around her. Question by question, word by word, Isabella bloomed. First, out in the English countryside. Then, off to America and Canada. And eventually, around the world, to Africa, Asia, Australia, and more.
This dashing picture book biography about the first female member of the Royal Geographic Society takes readers around the world with a daring nineteenth-century female explorer and author. Kristy Caldwell's detailed illustrations illuminate Bird's travels around the world, and Lori Mortensen's back matter, author's note, and bibliography will satisfy the curiosity of readers who want to learn more.
Quick thoughts on the book:
Most of the time, when I think about what it would be like to live during a different time period, I think about the lack of indoor plumbing and how women were treated and decide I am okay with living in my current time period. Despite my own lack of interest in traveling and living in past centuries, I can certainly appreciate how difficult it must have been for women. And yet, there are women who stepped out of traditional roles and left their stamp on the world in phenomenal ways.
Isabella Bird was one of those women. Based on the advice of a doctor, as a treatment option for her health challenges, Bird began with fresh air and walks which eventually led her to travel around the world and write about her travel experiences.
In my twenties, I moved from Massachusetts to California. A friend and I drove across the country and I remember thinking what it must have been like for pioneers traveling by foot and in covered wagons. As I traveled, I had the benefit of books, photographs, and other experiences to prepare me for what I might encounter. I also had modern conveniences such as air conditioning and a motorized truck. Even with all of my knowledge, I remember being awe struck by what I saw as I crossed the country.
When I think about Bird, I am also struck by awe and admiration. Travel wasn’t easy in the mid-1800’s and there were a lot of risks in doing so. Imagine how valuable and entertaining her writing about her journey would be for readers of her time. If there was any doubt that women had the strength and fortitude to endure all of the challenges, Bird proved it was possible and was eventually inducted into the National Geographic Society as their first woman member.
Mortensen introduces young readers to an incredible woman with an indomitable spirit. I hope that the spirit of adventure that resided in Bird will take root in the readers who are discovering her story for the first time.
Check out the book trailer:
Look for a copy of the book at your local indie bookstore or at your community library.
About the author: Lori Mortensen is the award-winning author of more than 100 books, including If Wendell Has a Walrus, Chicken Lily, and Mousequerade Ball, and over 500 stories and articles. Her most daring adventure? Driving from California to New York and back one summer with her family and their pop-up trailer. Just like Isabella, her family soaked up each exciting detail—from the Grand Canyon to the Appalachian Mountains, to fireworks in New York City on the Fourth of July. Today, Lori lives in Northern California. Visit her website at www.lorimortensen.com.
About the illustrator: Kristy Caldwell lives in New York and has illustrated several books, including Flowers for Sarajevo. Her favorite way to travel is by boat. Visit her website at www.kristycaldwell.com.
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