cover image Around the World

Around the World

Matt Phelan. Candlewick, $24.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-7636-3619-7

In the wake of Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days, the desire to circumnavigate the globe ran rampant, as Phelan (The Storm in the Barn) illustrates in this oddly unexciting tale of three such adventure seekers. In 1884, Thomas Stevens, a former miner, vows to cross the U.S. by bicycle, then a newfangled mode of transportation. After successfully traveling from coast to coast, Stevens decides to continue on to Europe via ship, and on through India and China before ending his 13,500-mile journey in Japan. Nellie Bly, by far the most interesting globetrotter seen here, departs New York in 1889 as a reporter with the goal of traveling around the world in 74 days, beating Verne's fictional Phileas Fogg. Sending dispatches back during her long steamer and train journey%E2%80%94during which she briefly meets Verne in France%E2%80%94Bly's ticking clock adds an element of suspense. Finally, in 1892, Massachusetts sea captain Joshua Slocum sets sail alone on the Spray, intending to sail around the world. Despite visitations from his dead wife and rough weather to liven up the voyage, his journey is comparatively dull. Little differentiates the three stories visually and the elements begin to blur, the result as flat as a breezeless sea. Ages 9%E2%80%9312. (Oct.)