Title: Wild Girl: How to Have Incredible Outdoor Adventures
Author: Helen Skelton
Illustrator: Liz Kay
Publisher: Walker Books
Genre: Older children – young teens non-fiction, Outdoors, Autobiography
Book format: Hardback
Description: ARE YOU READY TO GO WILD?
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to cycle to the SOUTH POLE? Or kayak 2,000 miles down the AMAZON? Or run an ULTRA-MARATHON through the scorching NAMIB DESERT?
Be inspired by HELEN SKELTON’S incredible ADVENTURES and discover how you can get outdoors and unleash your inner WILD GIRL.
*Free copy provided by publisher for review…
Review: This is an interesting book and perfect for anyone who’s a fan of Helen Skelton or who, like me, watched her taking on some wild adventures on television; as well as inspiring any girls out there to have their own outdoor adventures. The book is a bit smaller than A4 in size and is a hardback with some lovely embossed lettering on the front and thick matt pages filled with colourful illustrations, pictures and text. Although the title suggests how girls can have some incredible outdoor adventures, and it does give some tips, this book is more about Skelton’s adventures and how she overcame feelings of fears and pushed herself to achieve what she didn’t think possible.
The book is arranged into different sections and types of adventures: on snow, on sand, on water, etc. and each section has a different adventure or challenge that Skelton has done. I remember seeing her take part in most of these challenges back when she was a presenter on Blue Peter (I used to watch it even as an adult!) and it was amazing how she persevered and pushed through the gruelling challenges to acomplish them, things like running the length of three marathons in 24 hours in the desert, her paddling in a kayak down the Amazon river, tightrope walking at Battersea Power Station, etc. However with this book you not only get to relive those events but you also get to find out more details about what she went through, a lot of which I never knew before.
I love the way the book looks, each page is colourful with pieces of text arranged on what looks like a notebook. Extra sections of text or photographs look like they are taped or paperclipped onto the page, there’s even the odd fake coffee cup stain on some pages too! I’ve always loved books that are arranged like this as it makes reading large amounts of text more manageable and it also just makes the whole book more fun to engage with and read! As you read about the different challenges she faced you also get to see pictures explaining what equipment (if any) she had to take with, images showing you where these challenges took place (including maps) and lots of other fun little illustrations as well as some amazing photographs from each adventure.
I was amazed at just how easy it was to read this book and how much I was interested in all the difficulties Skelton went through. The adventures were not easy and there were a lot of things we never got to hear about when she did them on television, including some icky issues around having lots of huge pus-filled blisters, being sick on herself, toilet problems in the snow and that thing about her toenails! Each adventure she went on is just interesting to read about and shows you just how difficult it was and yet also makes you feel that it’s possible to achieve something equally difficult if you put your mind to it.
After each of Skelton’s adventures, there are then adventure suggestions that girls can do, all with adult supervision of course. This takes up one double page and the adventures are a mixture of things that you can try but for the more hardcore there are more extreme adventure suggestions on the double page after this. I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed that most of these adventures are ones that I wouldn’t have been able to do when I was growing up having some health and also weight/fitness related issues. Although some adventures were simpler, including camping in your garden (if you couldn’t go to a dedicated campsite) and having a campfire on a beach, others featured a lot of physical activities that either cost a lot (because you have to find the clubs/instructors to do them) or are very dangerous if not done properly with proper supervision from experts, this included absailing, bouldering (climbing boulders/walls that aren’t too high but without harneses), zip wiring, etc. There are suggestions for things that take place in other countries which is equally expensive for some, like visiting a desert city or places like the australian outback, grand canyon, etc. Each adventure idea is presented in a nice way, with these suggestions of things to do and places to have these adventures but it’s disappointing that most of them are ones that the less sporty/fit or even those with less income might not be able to do or might feel too intimidated into trying.
The last double page of each section features some women who have accomplished great adventues like the first african american to climb everest for example. There are little snippets of information on each woman including an illustration of them too. I like the added box that asks you to put a photo of yourself there for when you complete your own adventure. This extra section was good to read and it’s nice to hear about some women I’d never known about including some who are disabled and have managed to accomplish some great adventures. These women are definitely inspiration and a good added extra at the back of each section.
Overall I really enjoyed reading this book and I can see many girls getting a buzz to have some outdoor adventures. It definitely made me want to try out some of the activities for myself and I learned a lot (including the difference between a kayak and a canoe!), but I’m disappointed that this book doesn’t include more outdoor adventures especially given the title that suggests it’s all about how to have outdoor adventures. I really enjoyed learning a lot about Helen Skelton’s challenges and how she overcame them. I really liked her attitude, honesty and advice to girls about how to motivate themselves, but I do find it a shame that there weren’t more ideas for those who are at a more beginner level, especially those girls who, like me as a teenager, are not as fit and sporty and might be a bit fearful of extreme activities, but who want to get out there and have their own adventures too.
ps. There are some great images of some of the inspirational women on the inside covers too (pictures include these)!
Do you like the outdoors? What sort of adventures have you tried or would you like to try? Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂