Book Review: wild girl


by Helen Skelton, Illustrated by Liz Kay

Candlewick Press, U.S. Release October 2020

As I began to review the Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of WILD GIRL provided to me by Candlewick Press, my initial thought was, “Is this Girl Crazy?” But having read through Helen Skelton’s INCREDIBLE adventures, I’ve concluded no, she’s not crazy. She’s just WILD!!

And what’s the difference? Isn’t it crazy to bike to the South Pole or run three marathons through a desert? Yes, if it were me. But Helen Skelton, adventurer, world-record breaker, and British TV personality, accomplished these stunts with a lot of training, support, and perseverance. The difference between wild and crazy? Preparation.

This collection of six real-life adventures is as well-crafted as Skelton’s excursions. It will help prepare you for your own local or more far-reaching escapades. Skelton shares with us her training programs, gear list, diary entries, the highs and lows. (The lowest of her lows? Having to wear the same pair of underpants for 30 straight days!)

Skelton also shows us ways we more modestly WILD ones can have adventures without traveling to the Amazon or Cumbria, England. Her optimism shines throughout these really extreme stunts. What does she find challenging? When talking about schoolwork, she tells us, “…anything is in your grasp if you are prepared to work for it.” (Page 125)

The really WILD part of this book is sharing Helen’s enthusiasm as she accomplishes some outrageous feats. If you’ve ever been downhill on skis or a sled, she’ll make you feel the thrill of kite skiing across the South Pole. I love to be on the water. But thinking about solo-kayaking down the Amazon, camping alone at night under the stars wondering what animal was making that sound got my heart thumping. Can you imagine the adrenaline rush of traversing a high-wire between tall towers? Just try it inches above the ground.

Skelton intimately retells her stories, describing her fears and failures as well as her successes. She says, “I also believe that it’s OK to try something and fail. How boring would life be if everything was smooth sailing?” (page 115). And that’s why she has a support team involved every step of the way.

And while she accepts her failures, it’s her optimism that shines through on every page, “…what I do enjoy is thinking something is impossible and then proving to myself that I can do it.” (page 34).

The take-away from each of her tales can be narrowed down to this: With confidence, determination, focus, and a strong support team, every girl can experience WILD, memorable adventures.

Check out this new release, then get outdoors!


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