A FEW OTHER EVENTS FOR
- Itâ€™s the birthdate of James Flora (1914â€“1998) The Day the Cow Sneezed.
- Itâ€™s also the birthdate of Virginia Woolf (1882â€“1941) Mrs Dalloway, To The Lighthouse, A Room of One's Own. And itâ€™s A Room of One's Own Day. Read My Very Own Room/Mi Propio Cuartito by Amada Irma PĂ©rez, illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzalez.
- In 1858 â€śThe Wedding Marchâ€ť by Felix Mendelssohn becomes a popular wedding recessional after it is played on this day at the marriage of Queen Victoria's daughter, Victoria, and Friedrich of Prussia. Read Uncle Bobbyâ€™s Wedding by Sarah S. Brannen, and Alligator Wedding by Nancy Jewell, illustrated by J. Rutland.
On January 25, 1890, stunt newspaper reporter Nellie Bly arrived in New Jersey, after managing to travel around the world in 72 days. She had set out to beat the record of Jules Verneâ€™s imaginary hero, Phineas Fogg in Around the World in Eighty Days. This feat was only one of Blyâ€™s accomplishments. In Nellie Bly: Americaâ€™s Star Reporter, Bonnie Christensen creates an exciting portrait of the journalist who at the age of twenty-five captured the worldâ€™s fancy.
Christensen is particularly good at creating context for Nellie Bly in just a few sentences. â€śIn an age when women were not entitled to vote, when few women could attend college, and when fewer held jobs, Nellie Bly dared to defy convention.â€ť At sixteen, Nellie began to search for workâ€”and spent five years doing so. But a letter to the editor of the Pittsburg Dispatch landed her a spot on the paper. There she began a series of on-the-scene exposes; at one point she had to flee Mexico before the Mexican government arrested her.
When she joined the staff of the New York World, she really began to make waves. The newspaper liked to place undercover, or as they were called â€śstunt,â€ť reporters in different places. In Blyâ€™s case, she managed to get herself committed to the Womenâ€™s Lunatic Asylumâ€”where she observed conditions and wrote about life inside the mad house. Clearly, she would go the extra mile to get a good story.
Soon she came up with the idea of a round the world trip designed to imitate Verneâ€™s story. In a mere two days Bly prepared a wardrobe and set out from Hoboken, New Jersey, on the Augusta Victoria. Bonnie Christensen describes the journey, the places, and some of the sights that Bly saw. As both writer and illustrator Bonnie records fascinating details of Blyâ€™s trip and traces her route on a world map, along with some of the scenes that Bly witnessed.
After Bly reached San Francisco, she received aid from her employer, who sent a special train to make the rest of the trip. Along the way, Americans greeted Nellie with fanfareâ€”fireworks, telegrams, fruit, and candy. Arriving on time in the Jersey City train station, Bly demonstrated that Jules Verne had been rightâ€”and that a real woman could do things better than his male protagonist.
The great historian David McCullough once told me that American history was filled with stories that young people should know about, such as the exploits of Nellie Bly. Fortunately, in 2003 Bonnie Christensen made her story accessible to young readers ages six to ten. In an era when women can run for president, it is still good to remind young readers what their struggle has been along the way.
Hereâ€™s a page from Nellie Bly: Americaâ€™s Star Reporter:
Originally posted January 25, 2011. Updated for .