Away with Words: The Daring Story of Isabella Bird
Away with Words: The Daring Story of Isabella Bird
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Catalog Number: #184448
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
No other formats available
Copyright Date: 2019
Edition Date: 2019
Pages: 36
Availability: Available
New Title: Yes
ISBN: 1-682-63005-6
ISBN 13: 978-1-682-63005-1
Dewey: 910
Language: English
Reviews:
ALA Booklist
Growing up in Victorian England, Isabella Bird was plagued by aches and pains, though she loved reading letters from uncles in India and news reports about missions in Africa. As a young lady, her malaise worsened until her doctor recommended a sea voyage. After arriving in Nova Scotia, she traveled in North America and returned home to write An Englishwoman in America (1856), the first of many books that charmed readers with her descriptions of faraway places and her exciting adventures while traveling around the world. From a sickly child, Bird grew into a strong woman who escaped the social boundaries of her upbringing. Mortensen distills a very full life into a condensed but readable narrative for primary-grade children. The digital illustrations feature simplified forms, expressive figure drawing, and subtle use of color. Illustrated with a photo of Bird, an appended author's note offers more details of her life as a traveler, writer, and photographer. Children who hope to forge their own paths can take heart from this picture-book biography.
Kirkus Reviews
A daring Victorian woman raised in England leaves ladylike behavior behind to travel the world and write. The child of an English clergyman, Isabella Bird suffers from fragile health and depression. Thwarted by constrictive social mores, she is unable to go to school or spend time in nature. A doctor suggests she cure her aches with fresh air, and she is suddenly allowed to ride horseback in the countryside with her father. When she receives correspondence from her uncles in Colonial India, as well as letters from Christian missionaries in Africa, her adventurous spirit becomes further piqued. Still sick but responding well to the outdoors, Isabella is prescribed a long sea voyage. From all over the world, she collects stories for her publications. Mortensen describes Isabella as "like a wild vine stuck in a too-small pot," yet Isabella seems unable to criticize Victorian society, and her Eurocentric attitude and lack of self-awareness shine through in some of her quoted observations about other cultures. She calls the land in Cheyenne territory "nameless" and celebrates how people are "free as the winds" there, exoticizes a meal in Malaysia, and depicts Chinese locals as violent. While Isabella's imperialistic perspective is historically accurate—and fairly quiet in this picture book—it will quickly become appallingly apparent to any young reader inspired by the book to seek out Isabella's actual writing. Caldwell's illustrations are clean and beautiful.Ultimately, the heroine in this story is more complicated than the text makes out. (author's note, timeline, sources, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 5-8)
Publishers Weekly
As a child in the 1830s, adventurer and writer Isabella Bird suffered from mysterious maladies that improved when she indulged her wanderlust. At 22, -Isabella sailed away. Away from England. Away from family. And away from what a young Englishwoman could and couldn-t do.- Working in a crisp style, Caldwell depicts moments from Bird-s travels, whether riding a steamship on the Mississippi, dining with a friend-s pet apes in Malaysia, or nearly freezing while crossing a Persian desert. Mortensen writes in a precise, poetic manner, touching on Bird-s psychological complexity and her periods of darkness. This volume captures the spirit of a woman who embraced new experiences and played by her own rules; an author-s note and timeline conclude. Ages 6-10. (Mar.)
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
ALA Booklist (12/1/18)
Kirkus Reviews
Publishers Weekly
Reading Level: 2.0
Interest Level: K-3
Lexile: 750L
Guided Reading Level: U
Fountas & Pinnell: U

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 Caldwells detailed illustrations illuminate Birds travels around the world, and Lori Mortensens back matter, authors note, and bibliography will satisfy the curiosity of readers who want to learn more.


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