Reading into History’s May Book: Around the World by Matt Phelan


May is here and it’s time for a new book club read! Reading into History is now reading our first graphic novel, Around the World, by Matt Phelan. Phelan is a Scott O’Dell Award winning author and illustrator. Around the World tells the stories of three nineteenth-century world explorers.

First, there was Thomas Stevens, a coal miner who bicycled around the globe. Second, there was Nellie Bly, a woman reporter who raced around the world by steamboat in record time…that is, she beat the record of fictional character Phileas Fogg from Jules Verne’s novel Around the World in Eighty Days. Last there was General Joseph Slocum who was the first person to travel around the world by himself on a 36-foot sloop.

Each intrepid explorer’s story tell us a lot about changes in technology and society in the late 1800s. If you come to the book wrap on May 19th at 3 pm, you’ll get to discuss this book with fellow readers, meet Matt Phelan and see him demonstrate his illustration techniques, see Museum artifacts related to the book (we have a Nellie Bly board game!) and get your book signed!

Read our interview with Matt below, read his book, and come see us on May 19th!

DiMenna Children’s History Museum: What were you like between the ages of 9 and 12?

Matt Phelan: Between the ages of 9 and 12 I spent most of my time in my basement workshop. I made puppets, masks, stop-motion animation models, and of course drew pictures. My dad had an early video camera and my brother and I made our own movies, too.

DCHM: What is your favorite time period in American history?  Why?

MP: I really love everything about the 1920s and 1930s: the music, architecture, fashion, movies, and books.

DCHM: What is your favorite place in New York City?  Why?

MP: The Tenement Museum in the Lower East Side. You really get a feeling for the time period by just walking through that old apartment building. Central Park is my favorite if I just want to go for a walk.

DCHM: What is your favorite object at the New-York Historical Society?

MP: The Nellie Bly Board Game (of course)!

DCHM: What made you want to write Around the World?

MP: I had read the first-person accounts of each of these adventurers at different times over several years. I was deeply impressed by the scope of these travels and the fact that each person overcame huge obstacles to reach their goal. I find these stories very inspiring and the people endlessly fascinating.

DCHM: What three words best describe Around the World?

MP: Determination. Courage. Fortitude. I think Thomas Stevens, Nellie Bly, and Joshua Slocum possessed all three.

All Reading into History book wraps are free with Museum admission, and no RSVPs are required. For more information about the Reading into History family book club, visit the club page on our website or email familyprograms@nyhistory.org


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