Alastair Humphreys is probably best known as the explorer who spent four years cycling 46000 miles through more than 60 countries. He has also run multiple marathons across the Sahara, rowed the Atlantic and walked the entire length of India. In this book, he takes the opportunity to share his passion for exploration by writing about twenty of the adventurers who inspired him. Some of them are already well known, such as Amelia Earhart, who flew solo across the Atlantic, and Ranulph Fiennes, who is probably most notorious for sawing off the tips of his own fingers after getting severe frostbite. However, I found the stories of the less famous characters equally as fascinating. Readers could not fail to be inspired by the likes of Rick Hansen, paralysed in an accident at the age of 15, who pushed himself round the world in his wheelchair, and Robyn Davidson, who trekked across the Australian outback accompanied only by her four camels.
The first thing you notice when you pick up this wonderful book is its colourful, subtly embossed front cover and high-quality feel. Closer inspection reveals an enthralling combination of stories, comic strips, maps, illustrations, recipes, survival tips and trivia (did you know that most Nepalese Sherpas are named after the day of the week on which they were born?). There’s a balance of male and female adventurers, with many different countries and cultures being represented.
This is the kind of book that children will enjoy dipping into as it is one that can be returned to on numerous occasions. The short mini-biographies only take a few minutes to share with a class, and several of them could be used as an exciting starting point for a topic. Reading about the exploits of Apsley Cherry-Garrard who, having lost his tent, survived a blizzard at temperatures of -60°C, before beginning to learn about Antarctica would capture the interest of even the most disinterested pupil. Great Adventurers is suitable across the entire Key Stage 2 range and I highly recommend it. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and cannot wait to share its thrilling tales with my students.