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Cover image for The daring Nellie Bly : America's star reporter
The daring Nellie Bly : America's star reporter

1st ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Alfred A. Knopf, c2003.
Physical Description:
1 v. (unpaged) : col. ill. ; 29 cm.
Reading Level:
970 L Lexile
Personal Subject:
Introduces the life of Nellie Bly who, as a "stunt reporter" for the New York World newspaper in the late 1800s, championed women's rights and traveled around the world faster than anyone ever had.


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book Q J 921 BLY 1 1

On Order



From the award-winning picture book biographer of Woody Guthrie comes the inspirational story of Nellie Bly. Born in 1864, during a time in which options were extremely limited for women, Nellie defied all expectations and became a famous newspaper correspondent. Her daring exploits included committing herself to an infamous insane asylum in New York City to expose the terrible conditions there and becoming the first American war correspondent of either sex to report on the front lines of Austria during World War I. In 1889, Nellie completed her most publicized stunt, her world-famous trip around the world in just 72 days, beating the record of Jules Vernes' fictional hero in Around the World in 80 Days. With an informative text and pen-and-ink illustrations reminiscent of the graphic style of the late 1800s, The Daring Nellie Bly captures the independent spirit of America's first star reporter, Nellie Bly.

Author Notes

Bonnie Christensen was born in Saranac Lake, New York in 1951. She received a bachelor's degree in theatre and communication from the University of Vermont. She worked backstage at Joseph Papp's Public Theater, the Actor's Studio, and other studios in New York City for 13 years. She also wrote several plays that were produced off-off Broadway.

She was an author, artist, and book illustrator. Her first book, An Edible Alphabet, was published in 1994. She wrote and illustrated a number of picture books including Django: World's Greatest Jazz Guitarist, Woody Guthrie: Poet of the People, Fabulous: A Portrait of Andy Warhol, The Daring Nelly Bly: America's Star Reporter, A Single Pebble: A Story of the Silk Road, and Elvis: The Story of the Rock and Roll King. She died of ovarian cancer on January 12, 2015 at the age of 63.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 5

School Library Journal Review

Gr 2-5-Born in 1864, Bly (christened Elizabeth Jane Cochran) lived at a time when opportunities for women were extremely limited. Not only did she overcome overwhelming obstacles to become one of the first "serious" female newspaper reporters, but she also became one of the most well known. Her expos?s on the discriminatory work practices toward women at several factories and the deplorable condition of a city-run mental institution made her famous, but her historic 72-day journey around the world made her a folk hero. Large, colorful, pen-and-ink illustrations cover almost every page, and a four-page world map helps readers follow the journalist's round-the-world jaunt. Appropriately enough, this terrific biography reads like an adventure story. Perfect for read-alouds, the book gives just enough information to tell a good tale, while providing inspiration for the curious to seek out more material about this fascinating woman.-Sue Morgan, Tom Kitayama Elementary School, Union City, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book Review

(Intermediate) A young woman, satchel in hand, waves gaily from the jacket of this middle-grade biography, inviting potential readers to join her on a great journey, both literally around the world and metaphorically through her life. It's a trip worth taking. Born at the end of the Civil War when women were considered weaker, more needy, and less clever than men, Bly defied all three cliches. Through luck and pluck she found work as a female reporter and soon became a household name, reporting on the social conditions of women and children, going undercover as a patient in the Women's Lunatic Asylum, and staging an eighty-day trip around the world. While Christensen touches on Bly's early life and the beginnings of her career, it is the around-the-world journey that forms the literary and visual climax of the story. Bly's motto, ""Energy rightly applied and directed will accomplish anything,"" marks her race against the clock and the rapid pacing of her adventure. Two double-page maps, decorated with faux coins, tickets, and stamps suggestive of the times, highlight important stops and trace her route, which is feverishly related in the text. Other illustrations, dense, dark, scratchy pen-and-inks, suggest Victorian melodrama--although as played out by a woman of action rather than a damsel in distress. A final montage centering the adult Bly among the women and children who served as subjects of her exposes and later crusades reminds readers of her powerful voice and of those ""who had no friend but Nellie Bly."" Appended with a chronology, a bibliography, and a videography. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.

Kirkus Review

Christensen unabashedly positions Nellie Bly in the pantheon of feminist heroes. She "grew up competing with two older brothers," "learned the art of standing out from the crowd" from her mother, and in the course of a spectacular journalistic career highlighted by a less-than-80-day solo jaunt around the world, exposÉs of dreadful conditions in a New York asylum, and a stint as correspondent in WWI, she "changed how the world viewed women and paved the way for the young women who followed." Despite the hyperbole, this account of that career's high spots makes riveting reading, and a perfect lead-in to the more detailed accounts offered in the concluding bibliography. The author illustrates Bly's exploits with vigorously drawn scenes that resemble period newspaper engravings. Nary a dull moment in this rousing profile. (chronology, bibliography, videography) (Picture book/biography. 8-10) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Gr. 4-8. In this copiously illustrated volume, astronaut Ride and educator O'Shaughnessy offer a thrilling introduction to our solar system. Although our neighboring planets were formed at about the same time and from about the same stuff, the authors write, they are nine very different worlds. Each chapter takes readers on a planetary tour. The section on Earth includes a time line and theories of the evolution of life on our planet. The authors explain facts in simple, straightforward language that doesn't condescend to a young audience, and the visuals include exciting images from space, charts that contrast the planets' properties, and artists' renderings of unattainable space views and imagined explorations. Throughout, the authors successfully put the planets in wider context, as in the section Venus, Earth and Mars--Why They Are So Different. Useful appended charts, including a full listing of all space flights, add to the appeal. Visually arresting and clearly presented, this is an obvious choice for both public and school libraries. --Gillian Engberg Copyright 2003 Booklist

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