Nellie vs. Elizabeth Two daredevil journalists' breakneck race around the world

Kate Hannigan

Book - 2022

"Join two daredevil journalists, Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland, as they race against each other--and the ticking clock--to circle the globe in fewer than 80 days. And by any means possible--ship, train, even foot! Bly, energetic and scrappy, and Bisland, poetic and sophisticated, shared one common goal: to prove that women could not only travel the world but were just as curious, capable, and courageous as any man. Did it really matter who won the race?"--Jacket flap.

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Location Call Number   Status
Children's Room j910.41/Hannigan Checked In
New York : Calkins Creek 2022.
Main Author
Kate Hannigan (author)
Other Authors
Rebecca Gibbon (artist)
First edition
Physical Description
1 volume (unpaged) : illustrations (chiefly color) ; 25 x 31 cm
Includes bibliographical references.
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

On November 18, 1889, two journalists left New York separately, each determined to circle the globe. Nellie Bly's goal was to beat the fictional hero of Jules Verne's Around the World in 80 Days. Elizabeth Bisland's goal was to beat Nellie Bly. Unaware of Bisland's challenge, Bly detoured to Amiens, France, to meet Verne. The competition enriched the journalists' publishers, who saw the trips as publicity stunts. Few women worked as journalists, and fewer would have dared to take such a difficult journey alone. Female readers were particularly excited that a woman might accomplish what no man had ever done. Thousands of fans greeted Bly upon her triumphant return after 72 days. Bisland arrived four days later. Hannigan concludes that the journalists' travels made the world seem smaller, while demonstrating the capabilities of women. Both text and pictures handle the dual story quite well. Quotes from Bly, Bisland, and their contemporaries add period viewpoints to the story. Varied in composition, the mixed-media artwork illustrates the travelers' experiences and their times effectively. A spirited, historical picture book.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

In this swiftly paced picture book adventure, Hannigan traces the 1889--1890 circumnavigation of the globe undertaken by two intrepid women journalists: "eager and energetic" Nellie Bly (1864--1922) and "refined and dignified" Elizabeth Bisland (1861--1929), who each sought to beat Jules Verne's fictional journey, Around the World in 80 Days, for their respective editors. As both Bly and Bisland embark from New York in opposite directions, high-energy prose tracks their progress, studded with direct quotes from both travelers and coverage of their trips: " 'I am running a race with Time,' Nellie told a steamship agent in Hong Kong. 'Time?' he replied. 'I don't think that's her name.' Nellie's jaw dropped. This was the first she'd heard of Elizabeth Bisland." In acrylic inks and colored pencil, Gibbon provides brightly colored, intricately doodle-like accompaniment as numbered spreads portray the women's impressively conveyed journeys. Back matter includes a creators' note and a timeline of women investigative journalists. Ages 7--10. (Feb.)

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Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 2--4--Two creative, energetic women set out on an around-the-world journalists' dream assignment in this book. Readers meet Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland in the late 1800s. Bly, inspired by the popularity of the book Around the World in 80 Days, upped the idea of circling the globe in 75 days! After Bly assured her editor that a woman could do the assignment, she set sail across the Atlantic. That very evening Bisland's editor called to ask if she would challenge Bly and sail the opposite direction. At first, Bisland was less than enthusiastic but eventually, she also set out to globe-trot. The book follows these two women on their journeys around the world, and at one point even their steamships cross paths. The pages are colorful and have lovely landmarks of the locations Bly and Bisland pass through during their travels. One highlight young readers will love is Bly's souvenir from Singapore, a monkey she names McGinty. This empowering story ends with a terrific author's note that includes images from the time period, newspaper clippings, and other highlights of the lives and work of other female journalists. VERDICT This unusual story with its driven women and epic tour belongs on the biography shelves, but the adventure shelves, too.--Erin Olsen

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

The real-life story of two intrepid female journalists and their competition to circumnavigate the globe. In 1889, daredevil American newswoman Nellie Bly was keen to improve on the journey described in Around the World in Eighty Days (1872). Though skeptical at first--"women are too delicate for adventures"--her editors eventually gave her the go-ahead. Little did she know that rival reporter Elizabeth Bisland was attempting the same record-breaking trip from the opposite coast of the USA. Hannigan recounts the hair-raising, breakneck race, including the challenges each woman faced--seasickness, late ships, surly sailors, and more. Direct quotes attributed to Bly, Bisland, and various newspapers that covered the escapade pepper the text, some raising more questions than they answer. Did Elizabeth really receive false information that her ship had refused to wait for her? On this point the book is mum. Although the narrative attempts to laud both women equally, the description of Bly as a "stunt journalist" who was "willing to go to outrageous extremes to catch a reader's attention" minimizes her important work. The acrylic ink and colored pencil illustrations are colorful with fine details, if flat; they sometimes strain the reader's credulity, as in a spread showing the two women joining hands and celebrating their wins together. Backmatter includes a marvelous "Timeline of Women Investigative Journalists" that is worthy of an entire book in and of itself. This mutual homage mutes the thrill of competition, yet there's much to love in this historic tale of female derring-do. (author's note, bibliography) (Informational picture book. 4-7) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.