Project Description


It Can’t Be Done, Nellie Bly!

A Reporter’s Race Around the World

by Nancy Butcher
illustrated by Jen Singh

This book tells the true story of a courageous woman’s famous journey in 1889 that took her all the way around the globe in record time.

Nellie Bly was a newspaper reporter for the New York World in the late nineteenth century. But instead of writing about “ladylike” subjects like tea parties and charity balls, Nellie wrote about the social problems of her day: poor job conditions, dilapidated housing, and dishonest politicians.

Many people objected to the things she wrote about. But Nellie Bly was unstoppable. 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.

Here is the true story of a woman with an indomitable spirit and love of adventure whose amazing journey will inspire a new generation of young readers.

Hardcover: $12.95
ISBN: 978-1-56145-289-7
Total Pages: 144
Size: 5 x 7
Language: English
Accelerated Reader
AR Quiz#: 71756
AR Reading Level: 5.2
AR Points: 2

F&P (Fountas & Pinnell)
F&P Level: P
F&P Grade: 3

Reading Counts
Reading Counts Level: 4.3
Reading Counts Points: 5
Reading Counts Interest Level: 3-5


“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

“…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 blog

“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 blog

“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 blog


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.