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[Nonfiction Wednesday] Exploring The World With Words

"Away With Words: The Daring Story Of Isabella Bird" by Lori Mortensen and Kristy Caldwell.


Myra here.

We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2020 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, when we can.

I found this picturebook biography by accident at the Zayed Central Library and knew that it would be perfect for our current reading theme.

Away With Words: The Daring Story Of Isabella Bird (Amazon | Book Depository)

Written by Lori Mortensen Illustrated by Kristy Caldwell
Published by Peachtree Publishers (2019)
ISBN: 1682630056 (ISBN13: 9781682630051)
Borrowed from Zayed Central Library. Book photos taken by me.

Isabella Bird was born in 1831, and she had a very poor constitution, suffering from aches and pains that could not be explained by medical doctors. Eventually they discovered that fresh air and being outdoors helped Isabella not to wilt away.

One of the things that also entertained Isabella whenever she is sick at home is the letters being sent by her uncles from India and their missions in Africa. She was fascinated by reports and documentation of the larger world outside the four walls of her home in England.

Her first doctor-recommended trip outside the country in a steamer bound for Nova Scotia significantly improved her medical condition and also provided her with a deep sense of freedom. I enjoyed reading how she navigated the larger world after she has resolved that “I must live my own life” and spent it traveling the world and writing bestselling books about her experience.

However, I would have appreciated more information about how Isabella Bird funded her travels. I remain amazed at stories like this that seem to take for granted the financial aspect and privilege of traveling, especially for a woman like Isabella Bird, who does not seem to have a full-time income? Or are her bestselling books funding her travel? Her inheritance, most likely? At any rate, the Author’s Note in the end as well as a timeline of her travels and publications provide more information about her many explorations around the world.

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Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

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