Wild Girl: How to Have Incredible Outdoor Adventures by Helen Skelton, illustrated by Liz Kay

Published by Candlewick

Wild Girl: How to Have Incredible Outdoor Adventures: Skelton, Helen, Kay,  Liz: 9781536212860: Amazon.com: Books

Summary:  Helen Skelton is a British TV personality who also enjoys taking on incredibly difficult outdoor challenges, usually for charity, such as kayaking the length of the Amazon River,  bicycling to the South Pole, and running three back-to-back marathons in under 24 hours in the Namibian desert.  Each chapter covers a certain type of terrain: adventures in the snow, the sand, the water, the mountains, the countryside, and the city.  Much of the chapter is taken up with an account of her own adventure, including preparation, training, gear, and the actual experience with all of its highs and lows.  At the end of each chapter, she suggests wild adventures and extremely wild adventures, with places around the world to enjoy each.  There’s also a “Wild Girl Wall of Fame” which gives short profiles of other women’s adventures in that chapter’s terrain.  144 pages; grades 5-8.

Pros:  Although most of us won’t attempt Helen’s feats, she’s an enthusiastic storyteller who may inspire girls (and boys) to step out of their comfort zones.  She’s also modest about her accomplishments, frequently citing mistakes she made and encouraging readers to tune out the types of naysayers she experienced.  The book, with its plentiful illustrations, photos, and sidebars, is engaging and will be an easy sell to middle schoolers.

Cons:  Some of the stories (the marathons in the desert comes to mind) were so harrowing they actually made me want to be less adventurous.

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