An engaging smorgasbord of adventure travel, with three stories of Earth circumnavigation in the late 1800's. Thomas Stevens, Nellie Bly and Joshua Slocum were each interesting individuals motivated by the same desire to blaze their own life trails in a unique and distinguishing manner. Matt Phelan's facility of evoking a time and a place with minimal stokes is amazingly effective. Each story breezes along even though the journeys themselves sometimes took monotonous turns. Even so, Phelan's deft hand evokes a sense of the journey within each frame that immensely empowers the experience of the reader in sharing the trip with the traveler. There is also much to admire in the character of those who chose to challenge themselves, thereby changing the course of their lives in unimaginable ways.Perfect for middle-school reluctant readers, boys or girls. Nellie Bly, the woman reporter, who becomes an adventurer who let no one else define her or limit her potential, is an excellent model for girls. Thomas Stevens, the bicycler, emerged from ten years as a coal miner to become a world traveler with "a steadfast sense of purpose, optimism, and confidence in his abilities." Joshua Slocum fashioned a sailboat thirty-seven feet long, fourteen inches wide and four feet deep in the hold, from his own hands, to sail around the world with a bare minimum of navigational tools.Ladder this book with Travels of the Zephyr by Caroline Mac Killian by Abrams Books for Young Readers 9780810989740.