It sounds like an old riddle: how many skinned knees does it take to teach a kid how to ride a bike? The answer is “too, too many” and it’s no joke, just bloody fact, as AIR MAIL Pilot well remembers, and you may, too.
So hats off (and teeth privately gnashed) to Daisy Adams, who lives in Bristol, England. She’s only four but can already ride a unicycle—the tricky, one-wheeled conveyance beloved by clowns, jugglers, and a certain type of kid with annoyingly whimsical affectations who you may meet in high school.
Daisy got a head start on the rest of us by learning how to ride a regular bike when she was just two—an age when most children are lucky if they can toddle across a playground without falling over.
When she was three, Daisy advanced to a BMX bike. You can find videos of her online doing rudimentary jumps over her father and riding while standing on the seat and using only one hand—no training wheels in sight.
Her mom, Helen Adams, said Daisy got the unicycle bug one day last year when the family was out BMXing and Daisy spotted some older kids, aged 9 to 12, attempting to ride unicycles as a lockdown project. “Daisy said she really wanted to have a go,” Helen told the Southwest News Service. “Anything she sees she will try to have a go with…. It’s just part of her nature. She’s very inquisitive.”
At three feet, two inches, Daisy is short, even for her age, so finding a unicycle small enough for her wasn’t easy, but the family located a proper used one. (Circus chimps have been known to ride unicycles, so perhaps that was the source. If so, AIR MAIL Pilot hopes a new seat was installed.)
It took Daisy a while to learn the trick of balancing on one wheel—there are also videos online of her repeatedly pedaling into a wall—but she soon got the hang of it and now unicycles all over town, unaided. “She says it’s the hardest thing she’s done, but that she is proud,” Helen said.
“She just has phenomenal balance,” Daisy’s mom continued. “I think if you practice and do stuff as a child you can get really good. But you have to have some basis to work with. She’s always really in control with all the technical parts of it, and that’s just who she is, I guess.”
What Daisy is, it sounds like, is a cycling prodigy, a genius at the pedals. It could be genes: her father, Robert Adams, is a former competitive amateur cyclist. Meanwhile, since mastering the unicycle, she has taken up mountain biking. The Daily Mail reports that her longest trek so far is 47 miles, to Bath and back. We repeat: she is four.
Here is some advice for the Adamses: if you pass someone riding a Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R motorcycle—or rather, if one hurtles past you—cover Daisy’s eyes, at least until she’s six. —Bruce Handy
Last year, Billy Baratt became, at age 13, the youngest person ever to win an International Emmy, he knew his adolescence would be different from most teenagers’.
Barratt won the prize for his starring role in the BBC show Responsible Child. In the one-off drama, Barratt plays a 12-year-old kid who, along with his 23-year-old brother, is tried as an adult for murdering his abusive stepfather. Based on a true story, the program tackles a controversial English and Welsh law that allows courts to try children as young as 10 as adults in murder cases.
The law has been criticized for decades, and the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child even campaigned against it. Sean Buckley, the writer of the show, and Nick Holt, BAFTA-winning director, took the story as the subject to scrutinize the age of criminal responsibility.
In addition to highlighting the legal matter, Responsible Child proved that Barratt was a face to watch. He started his acting career at nine years old with a recurring part on the British period drama Mr. Selfridge. Since then, he’s appeared in BBC’s The White Princess and acted alongside Emily Blunt in the 2018 reboot of Mary Poppins.
“I’ve always been a bit of a show off, to be honest,” Barratt, who is now 14, says. “Performing is just natural to me.”
Show business runs in his family. Barratt’s mother, Carolyn Owlett, is a well-known actress and TV presenter. She recognized her son’s talent at a very young age and encouraged him to audition for the Sylvia Young Agency, a company that represents child actors.
While Barratt has shown his acting chops in the gritty and emotional roles he’s landed so far, he’s interested in many genres. “I’d love to be in an action movie or a comedy,” he says. “Or even something music-based.”
Recently, Barratt has played a lead character on Invasion, a slow-burning alien saga created by the Oscar-nominated producer Simon Kinberg. Barratt plays Casper, a shy boy who suffers from epilepsy and is the target for schoolyard bullies.
“He’s got a lot of layers to him,” Barratt says of Casper. “I like to get into character [by] listening to music and trying to figure out what they would listen to.”
When Barratt’s off-screen, he tries to live like a normal teenager by writing, playing music with his band, and skateboarding. The hobby that keeps him most down to earth? “My mom likes to make me hoover a lot,” he says with a laugh. (For AIR MAIL Pilot’s American readers, “hoover” is British for “vacuum.”) “I’d say that’s definitely a sort of hobby of mine now.” —Bridget Arsenault
On a recent family trip, Jackson Houlding, who is only four years old, joined his sister and parents on a two-week hike in the Rockies. Their final challenge was to climb Pingora Peak, an 11,000-foot-tall mountain in Wyoming. When Jackson reached the top, he broke a record. He officially became the first four-year-old in history to climb a mountain that high.
Pingora Peak is part of the Wind River Range in Wyoming. While the climb is arduous on a good day, Jackson also faced grueling conditions. At night, temperatures dropped to freezing. Plus, the area is home to bears who don’t often meet people.
But this wasn’t Jackson’s first mountain. Instead of hanging out by the beach, Jackson’s family, who live in Staveley, Cumbria, embark on huge hikes during their annual holiday. Last year, the family climbed Piz Badile, a 10,000-foot mountain on the border of Italy and Switzerland. While Jackson was only three at the time—too young to climb by himself—he reached the top by riding along in his mother’s backpack.
Breaking records runs in the family. Jackson’s father, Leo, won the British junior indoor climbing competition in 1996, when he was just 16 years old. Jackson’s older sister, eight-year-old Freya, not only climbed Pingora Peak, but kept going. She went on to climb Wolf’s Head, a nearby peak that stands at staggering 12,000 feet.
The Houlding family always scale the mountains together. “When me and Jessica started our family,” Leo told The Times of London, “we always wanted to create these kinds of memories with our kids, and were so thrilled we’ve been able to do it so soon.” —Elena Clavarino