Pedal, Balance, Steer: Annie Londonderry, the First Woman to Cycle Around the World (Hardcover)

Pedal, Balance, Steer: Annie Londonderry, the First Woman to Cycle Around the World By Vivian Kirkfield, Alison Jay (Illustrator) Cover Image

Pedal, Balance, Steer: Annie Londonderry, the First Woman to Cycle Around the World (Hardcover)

By Vivian Kirkfield, Alison Jay (Illustrator)


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Annie Londonderry proves women can do anything they set their minds to—even cycle around the world—in this nonfiction picture book for cycling enthusiasts, budding travelers, and anyone who dreams of reaching a difficult goal.

In the 1890s, times were tough, and opportunities for women were few and far between. When mother-of-three Annie Londonderry saw an ad promising $10,000 to a woman who could cycle around the world in a year, something no one thought possible, she decided it was time to learn to ride. She waved goodbye to her family in Boston and set off for Chicago.

Annie was exhausted when she arrived fifty-nine days later—and she realized she’d never make it across the Rockies before winter, and certainly not riding a heavy women’s bike and wearing a corset and petticoats. So Annie got herself a better bicycle and comfortable bloomers, and headed back East to try a different route. Facing robbers, sprained ankles, and disapproving stares, Annie missed her family and wanted to quit. But she journeyed on, all over the world. And, when she finally reached California and the Southwest, she kept pedaling. Her family was counting on the prize money, and people around the world, especially women, were watching.

Annie came through for all of them, arriving in Chicago fourteen days before her deadline and proving that women could do just about anything.
Vivian Kirkfield is a retired early childhood educator and the author of several books for children, including From Here to There, Making Their Voices Heard, and Pippa’s Passover Plate. Her books have received starred reviews in publications like Kirkus and have been selected by the Junior Library Guild and PJ Library.

Alison Jay is the illustrator of numerous books, including The Pig War, A Lady Has the Floor, and Bee and Me, which she also wrote. Alison’s signature style is created using alkyd paint on thick cartridge paper, with a crackle varnish, giving an aged effect.
Product Details ISBN: 9781635926828
ISBN-10: 1635926823
Publisher: Calkins Creek
Publication Date: February 20th, 2024
Pages: 40
Language: English
"This fast-paced, well-written tale tells the story of a remarkable, determined woman. The quirky, lively illustrations, rendered in oil paint with varnish, sometimes presented as vignettes, nicely capture period settings and details. The mantra 'pedal, balance, steer' 'careens' throughout the artwork, the words and letters playfully stretching out; quotes from Annie are interspersed throughout. A fascinating, larger-than-life personality is deservedly brought to readers’ attention in this fine offering." —Kirkus Reviews

"Perseverance and a willingness to try new things win the day in this lively picture-book biography...Kirkfield’s text picks up on attention-grabbing details...and keeps the story focused with a repeated chorus of 'Pedal. Balance. Steer!' That refrain is often worked into the illustrations, the words winding beside Annie’s bicycle in Jay’s characteristic flat oil paintings with a crackled varnish that adds to the sense of history." —The Horn Book

"Jay’s varnished alkyd oil illustrations, rendered in sepia tones and greens with navy accents, capture the feel of the 1890s, when women in pants were a novelty. She also depicts maps that give a sense of Annie's adventures around the world and incorporates printed documents and text into the artwork. With generous back matter, this is a good addition to history and sports units." —Booklist

"Using the titular refrain, this stirring chronicle highlights the tenacity of record-breaking cyclist Annie Londonderry (1870–1947) via the Latvian-born biker’s arduous round-the-world journey...Kirkfield articulates the inspiration she offered to those following news of her progress. Jay employs oil on paper with a crackled effect in delicate stylized renderings. Concluding lines reinforce a motivational takeaway: 'She’d proven that she could do anything she put her mind to.'" —Publishers Weekly