PEDAL, BALANCE, STEER

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ANNIE LONDONDERRY, THE FIRST WOMAN TO CYCLE AROUND THE WORLD

by Vivian Kirkfield ; illustrated by Alison Jay RELEASE DATE: today

A fascinating, larger-than-life personality is deservedly brought to readers’ attention in this fine offering.

A cycling novice takes up an extraordinary challenge.

Two men offered $10,000 to the first woman to circumnavigate the globe by bike. Annie Londonderry—full name Annie Cohen Kopchovsky Londonderry (1870-1947)—a 24-year-old Jewish homemaker, had never ridden a bike, but she needed that money. The deal had a few stipulations: She had to earn $5,000 while traveling and return in 15 months or less. As a child, Annie had faced challenges learning English as a recent Latvian immigrant. Now she mastered cycling—in two lessons. On June 25, 1894, Annie left Boston with only an extra pair of undergarments. Roads were rough; she ate sparingly and occasionally slept on the ground. Eventually, Annie doffed her skirts, instead opting for bloomers. She traded her bike for a lighter, faster, brakeless men’s racer, changed directions, and boarded a Europe-bound ship, where she gave paid lectures. She made her way through Asia, sailed the Pacific, and crossed the United States. Journalists reported on the exploits of Annie, who continued earning money by lecturing. On September 12, 1895, she completed her journey, 14 days early. This fast-paced, well-written tale tells the story of a remarkable, determined woman. The quirky, lively illustrations, rendered in oil paint with varnish, sometimes presented as vignettes, nicely capture period settings and details. The mantra “pedal, balance, steer” “careens” throughout the artwork, the words and letters playfully stretching out; quotes from Annie are interspersed throughout.

A fascinating, larger-than-life personality is deservedly brought to readers’ attention in this fine offering. (author’s note; brakes, bloomers, and other bicycle bits; timeline; bibliography) (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: today

ISBN: 9781635926828

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Calkins Creek/Astra Books for Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2023

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