'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Sunday 3 April 2016

Review: The Gutsy Girl

Caroline Paul is a San Francisco firefighter. She's also climbed mountains, kayaked raging rivers, flown planes, and walked across the top of the Golden Gate Bridge (highly illegal and she does not encourage anyone else to do something so stupid!).

She believes life is to be fully lived, that girls need adventure so that they can step out of their comfort zone, learn to work with their fears, and grow up to be confident, resilient women who can cope with the challenges life will inevitably throw their way. And, in the process, they'll have a lot of fun too.

In The Gutsy Girl, Caroline has chosen to write about the times when her adventures went slightly awry. As she explains in her prologue:

I have had many adventures in my life that were perfectly planned, well executed, and hazard free. But let's face it, uneventful trips are boring … Instead, I have wilfully chosen to write about the few that ended in mishap and mayhem … because it is in those moments that I learned the most essential lessons: how to be brave, how to persevere, how to stay focused, how to laugh at myself, and more.

So, we read about the time Caroline decided to build a pirate ship out of milk cartons — that turned into an unsailable raft; the time she had to rescue a fellow climber from a crevasse on the snow- and ice-covered slopes of Alaska's highest mountain; and the time she sea-kayaked around the islands of Croatia — without first bothering to check whether there was anywhere she could kayak ashore to camp at night! And that's just the tip of the iceberg (that Caroline has probably climbed at some point in her adventure-filled life …).

Scattered throughout each chapter are quotes from female adventurers young and old, tips on how to find your inner adventurer, and brief profiles of inspirational 'Girl Heroes'. Among these are Fanny Workman, who in the 1890s, wearing a skirt and fashionable hat, climbed many of the Himalayan peaks; Marie Antoine, who turned her love of climbing trees into her career — she works as a botanist in the canopy of redwood forests, over 100 metres up in the air; and Laura Dekker, who set out a month before her fifteenth birthday to sail solo around the world, and successfully completed her goal a year and a half later.

This is a fun, entertaining read that's also packed full of information (how to make a compass; how to tie some useful knots, how to find water). Highly recommended for every young girl. As the wonderful poet and author Maya Angelou wrote: 'Courage allows the successful woman to fail — and learn powerful lessons from that failure — so that in the end she didn't fail at all.'

Title: The Gutsy Girl: Escapades for Your Life of Epic Adventure
Author: Caroline Paul
Illustrator: Wendy MacNaughton
Publisher: Bloomsbury, $19.99 RRP
Publication Date: April 2016
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781632861238
For ages: 10+
Type: Middle Non-Fiction