This is a first for us on Run247, reviewing a book aimed at children. But Fantastic Female Adventurers is no ordinary book and there’s plenty in there for all ages and genders. And, as Lizzie Rosewell put it in her article exploring why fewer women enter ultras than men, ‘if she can see it, she can be it‘. More visible role models could lead to higher participation.
Fantastic Female Adventurers is a beautiful new book, written by Lily Dyu (an adventurer and runner) and illustrated by Chellie Carroll. It tells the story of 14 female adventurers and its subtitle of ‘truly amazing tales of women exploring the world’ couldn’t be more appropriate. The adventurers take us to the North Pole, across the Atlantic, through the Himalayas and even to the moon. There are a couple of runners in there, but also climbers, sailors, cyclists and explorers. It’s wonderfully varied and the adventures are very global.
Anna McNuff features, who many runners may know from her exploits on the Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand and her current barefoot adventures running around the UK. There’s also the ever-inspirational Mira Rai, who became a child soldier before discovering a talent for ultra running. It’s great to see ultra runners featuring in a children’s book and rubbing shoulders with more conventionally inspirational role models like astronauts and explorers and it’s also great to have a book full of women to avoid children seeing ‘adventurer’ as a male-only label.
The stories are surprisingly in-depth considering that it’s aimed at age 8 and up, but I see that as a positive. The stories explore the early lives of the adventurers featured and what inspired them and motivated them to do what they have done. I really liked this aspect (and it made it really interesting for me to read as well). My 8 year old niece was initially a bit worried that the stories were a bit long, but once she got into them she really loved them. There is quite a lot of text for younger children, but as you approach it as 14 separate stories it chunks the book up well. Each story is full of interesting and inspiring tales, which are told in such a way that they really bring them to life.
But a major feature of the book is the stunning illustrations. Each story is accompanied by perfectly tailored illustrations and there’s even a lovely map so that the reader can follow where all the adventures take place. The pictures break up the text well for younger children and just add to the inspiration.
While primarily a children’s book, I think anybody would find something in this beautiful book. The stories are interesting, well-written and most of all the message is one of ‘I did this and so can you’. By exploring the experiences and motivations that led these people to embark on their adventures it makes you feel that they could be in reach (maybe when you’re a bit older). I’d highly recommend it as a Christmas present for the small person in your life, particularly if you read with them and would like something you could both enjoy.