THE DARING NELLIE BLY: America's Star Reporter

Bonnie Christensen, Author . Knopf $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-375-81568-3

Christensen (Woody Guthrie ) crafts an intriguing introduction to a larger-than-life figure in this attractive picture book biography. Born in 1864, Elizabeth Cochran (better known by her pen name, Nellie Bly) faced dim career prospects. Bly fell into journalism almost by accident at age 20, when her spirited letter to a local newspaper caught the editor's eye. In lucid prose, Christensen traces Bly's career as an investigative journalist, groundbreaking woman war correspondent (at 50, during WWI) and "stunt reporter" who once got herself committed to a women's insane asylum in order to expose its abysmal conditions. However, younger readers may lack the historical context to appreciate the nature of Bly's crusades. The author reserves the core of the book for Bly's most famous stunt: her successful attempt, in 1889, to break the fictional travel record of Phileas Fogg in Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days (Bly did it in 72 days). Using pen and ink washed with muted color, Christensen creates an appropriately Victorian mood, and her busy cross-hatching echoes the style employed by newspaper artists of the day. She intersperses full-spread vistas with smaller framed scenes, while Bly's plucky world tour unfolds through a series of maps overlaid with drawn tickets, postcards, coins and the like. Although Bly the individual remains elusive here, readers will come away with an appreciation of her many feats. Ages 6-12. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 11/10/2003
Release date: 10/01/2003
Paperback - 1 pages - 978-0-375-85118-6
Library Binding - 32 pages - 978-0-375-91568-0
Open Ebook - 978-0-307-79343-0
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