When I was a child, the truth is that I was a bit scared cat. The ‘adventurer’ in my family has always been my older brother. He is the search and rescue pilot. He is the one who climbed the highest mountain in the Swiss Alps, in a snow storm, for fun.
Still, I always try to shake the scared cat inside of me. And I’ve always known how important it is for girls to feel brave as they grow up.
It is common for girls to feel unsure of themselves. Especially in the high school years, according to the Girl Scout developmental psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald, “Girls, in general, experience such hesitation and a normative decline in confidence.”
A way to counteract that loss of confidence? Promoting the sense of adventure in girls before adolescence.
Such adventures don’t have to be great. Investigation of Anglia Ruskin University shows that even going for a walk makes people feel more confident and better about their bodies. After all, nature doesn’t care how we look. It doesn’t matter who our friends are or what grades we got. It is a place where we can truly be ourselves.
That’s why I partnered with the award-winning illustrator Amy blackwell to create a mid-grade book dedicated to real-life adventurous women from around the world, from 2,000 years ago to the present.
An outstanding international USBBY 2020 book and a selection of children’s books from CBC, The girl who rode a shark: and other stories of daring women It has received star reviews in many places. Even more exciting, the children have been dressing up as women from the book.
Here’s a young reader named Sophie dressed as her favorite ballerina turned treetop scientist, Nalini Nadkarni.
Through brilliant illustrations combining portraits and hand-drawn maps, I am so pleased that readers can now trace the ocean flights of pilot Amelia Earhart, follow Isabella Bird’s expedition down the Yangtze River, and meet Kimi Werner, the freediving chef who got married a ride on the dorsal fin of a great white shark. I hope these stories help so many children feel bold, daring, and excited about the world.
As for me? I live in the Canadian Rockies these days, and while I still feel a little nervous before an adventure up a big mountain or across a frozen river, I feel much bolder than when I was a kid.
It helps that I now have many role models to help me feel daring. This is one of my favorite stories from The girl who rode a shark. Meet Jade Hameister.
The polar explorer who fights back against the South Pole thugs.
Jade Hameister lives in Australia. His country of birth is famous for its beaches, kangaroos and koalas. It is not so famous for snow. However, when Jade was 12, she decided to become a skier. In fact, he wanted to ski at the North Pole.
Skiing in the Arctic requires a lot of training, but Jade had nowhere to practice her technique. Still, he was able to develop his strength and endurance in the gym. He also went to the local beach and ran with giant tires attached to his waist. In this way, he mimicked the weight of pulling a heavy sled over ice. At the age of 14, Jade was ready for her adventure.
The far north of the world is not a blank canvas of soft snow. At the North Pole, Jade had to navigate the rubble of ice. He faced looming walls of snow whipped by raging winds. Between fields of drifting ice, there were rivers of frozen water to cross. Jade and her team used their sleds to build makeshift bridges over the water.
Every part of Jade’s body felt frozen and sore, but she never thought of giving up. She felt lucky to be in this fragile but beautiful part of the planet. In April 2016, after skiing 62 miles, Jade made history. He became the youngest person in history to ski to the North Pole on this route. Thirteen months later, he broke another record. In June 2017, Jade became the youngest woman to complete the 342-mile crossing over the Greenland Ice Cap.
Jade gave a talk about his skiing adventures. On the Melbourne stage, he said that every human body is amazing. It doesn’t matter how it looks in selfies. What matters is who we are. The entire audience applauded.
But when the video was posted on YouTube, some male commenters wrote malicious comments like “Make me a sandwich.” This is a catchphrase used by internet stalkers to try to make women feel small. It means, “Your achievements don’t matter. Your place is at home in the kitchen. “
Jade’s next ski adventure was at the South Pole. For more than a month, storms hit the mountains of Antarctica. Jade and her team advanced to the bottom of the world anyway. Finally, standing in her pink snowsuit under a bright sky, Jade took a photo.
He was holding a plate with a sandwich on it. It was for his internet bullies. Jade posted the image online. She captioned it, “I made you a sandwich (ham and cheese). Now ski 37 days and 600 km to the South Pole and you can eat it. “
Illustrations by Amy Blackwell
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