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Pedal, Balance, Steer - Annie Londonderry

Annie Londonderry, the First Woman

to Cycle Around the World



Cover of children's book titled Pedal, Balance, Steer about Annie Londonderry by VIvian Kirkfield

Calkins Creek

(Astra Books for Young Readers)

(pub. 2.20.2024)

40 pages

Ages 7 - 10

Author: Vivian Kirkfield

   Illustrator: Alison Jay

Character: Annie Londonderry


" In the 1890s, times were tough, and opportunities for women were few and far between. When mother-of-three Annie Londonderry saw an ad promising $10,000 to a woman who could cycle around the world in a year, something no one thought possible, she decided it was time to learn to ride. She waved goodbye to her family in Boston and set off for Chicago.

Annie was exhausted when she arrived fifty-nine days later—and she realized she’d never make it across the Rockies before winter, and certainly not riding a heavy women’s bike and wearing a corset and petticoats. So Annie got herself a better bicycle and comfortable bloomers, and headed back East to try a different route. Facing robbers, sprained ankles, and disapproving stares, Annie missed her family and wanted to quit. But she journeyed on, all over the world. And, when she finally reached California and the Southwest, she kept pedaling. Her family was counting on the prize money, and people around the world, especially women, were watching.

Annie came through for all of them, arriving in Chicago fourteen days before her deadline and proving that women could do just about anything."

Tantalizing taste:

"But Annie was determined to win the wager, provide a better life for her children, and prove that a woman could take care of herself.

Once in the city, Annie sold autographed photos, served as a clerk in different stores, and wheeled her way through the streets of Paris, adorning her body and her bike with ribbons advertising French companies, earning francs with every flutter."

And something more: VIvian Kirkfield, in the Author's Note writes: "This twenty-four-year-old Jewish mother of three was a most unlikely candidate for such a wager. But her idol was journalist Nelly Bly, who had traveled around the world eight years before to challenge Jules Verne's fictional record of traversing the globe in eighty days. Upon Annie's return, she moved her family to New York City, got a job as a journalist for the New York World, and published accounts of her exploits."


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