AWAY WITH WORDS by Lori Mortensen

AWAY WITH WORDS

The Daring Story of Isabella Bird
by ; illustrated by
Age Range: 5 - 8
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

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)

Pub Date: March 1st, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-68263-005-1
Page count: 36pp
Publisher: Peachtree
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2019




MORE BY LORI MORTENSEN

ChildrenIF WENDELL HAD A WALRUS by Lori Mortensen
by Lori Mortensen
ChildrenMOUSEQUERADE BALL by Lori Mortensen
by Lori Mortensen
ChildrenCOWPOKE CLYDE RIDES THE RANGE by Lori Mortensen
by Lori Mortensen

MORE BY KRISTY CALDWELL

ChildrenFLOWERS FOR SARAJEVO by John McCutcheon
by John McCutcheon
ChildrenMEET THE BOBS AND TWEETS by Pepper Springfield
by Pepper Springfield

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

ChildrenUNCOMMON TRAVELER by Don Brown
by Don Brown
ChildrenTRAVELING MAN by James Rumford
by James Rumford
AdultRARE TREASURE by Don Brown
by Don Brown