Project Description


It Can’t Be Done, Nellie Bly!

A Reporter’s Race Around the World

by Nancy Butcher
illustrated by Jen Singh

The true story of a courageous woman’s love of adventure and her famous journey that took her around the globe in record time.

Nellie Bly was a newspaper reporter for The New York World, but instead of writing about “ladylike” subjects like tea parties and charity balls, Nellie wrote about the social problems of her day, like poor job conditions, dilapidated housing, and dishonest politicians. If someone told her “It can’t be done, Nellie Bly,” she went right ahead and did it anyway. But when Nellie read Jules Verne’s novel, Around the World in Eighty Days, she was inspired to circle the globe even faster herself. Did the plucky young reporter go too far?

Young readers will cheer for Nellie as she embarks on her 22,000-mile trip equipped only with one sturdy travel dress, a small satchel, and a pet monkey she picks up in Singapore as her traveling companion. Traveling by ship, train, and foot, she has all kinds of incredible experiences―from surviving a monsoon at sea to visiting a leper colony in China.

This delightful true story of a woman with an indomitable spirit will inspire a new generation of young readers―and adventurers. Back matter includes additional information about Nellie Bly’s life.

Format: Hardcover
Price: $12.95
ISBN: 978-1-56145-289-7
Publication Date: 10/1/2003
Page Count: 144
Size: 5 ̎ x 7 ̎
Age Range: 7 – 10
Language: English
Format: Paperback
Price: $7.95
ISBN: 978-1-56145-686-4
Publication Date:
Page Count: 144
Size: 5” x 7”
Age Range: 7 – 10
Language: English
AR Level: 5.2
GRL: P, Gr 3
Lexile: 750L
Themes: Gender, Journalism, Nellie Bly, Travel
BISAC 1: JNF007020 JUVENILE NONFICTION / Biography & Autobiography / Historical
BISAC 2: JNF025200 JUVENILE NONFICTION / History / United States / 19th Century


“The book contains additional information about the reporter’s life, making it a satisfying biography suitable for reports and recreational reading. Fun, factual, and well written.” ―School Library Journal

“Readers will thrill to this story of Bly’s daring 22,000 mile journey…” ―A Mighty Girl

“A wonderful true story tale sure to inspire readers to tackle their own unique challenges.” ―Midwest Review of Books

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“A delightful story of a newspaper reporter’s attempt to travel around the world in 75 days to beat the record of the fictional character of Phileas Fogg. The author weaves a wonderful tale of the adventures faced by this daredevil woman and creatively inserts Nellie’s own words.” ―ACS Reader’s Haven

“A reporter, a race against time, and a pet monkey… what’s not to like? And at the end of the book, author Nancy Butcher provides some additional reading and more details about Nellie’s life and the race.” ―Sally’s Bookshelf

“Butcher does a good job of explaining terms and what’s going on, without completely spelling it out or watering it down. There are fun details and illustrations scattered throughout, and the reading experience is a satisfying one in terms of both information and entertainment. Having never heard of Nellie Bly before this read, I am now intrigued.” ―A Word’s Worth

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Amelia Bloomer Project ―ALA Booklist, Feminist Task Force, 2004

Children’s Crown Award (Nominee) ―National Christian School Association, 2005-2006

Meet the Author

Nancy Butcher is the author of more than two dozen books for children and adults, including It Can’t Be Done, Nellie Bly! and The Fire-Us Trilogy, coauthored with Jennifer Armstrong. A graduate of the University of Chicago, she lives in New York.

Meet the Illustrator

Jen Singh studied illustration at Kendall College of Art & Design and has illustrated several books. She lives in Georgia.