Falling Uphill The Secret of Life Make-A-School Project. Pictured here are the student illustrators standing in the shape of a bicycle.
Falling Uphill The Secret of Life book cover title screen
Falling Uphill: The Secret of Life. Illustrated by elementary students.

Falling Uphill: The Secret of Life

A true story about finding happiness in the last place left to look.

Falling Uphill the children’s edition illustrated by Poplar Creek Elementary School

As featured on Wisconsin Public Radio and dozens of other sources.

Hello from Buenos Aires, Argentina! I came across a signed copy of your beautiful book, “Falling Uphill: The Secret of Life” yesterday… I loved your tale of your adventure and how accessible you made it– it will touch many hearts and give wings to many dreams, as it did mine! I wish you continued success and just wanted to send you a quick note to let you know that across the oceans, you are inspiring dreamers to dream bigger. ~

Thank you. I just finished reading “Falling Uphill” with tears streaming down my face. It’s beautifully written and illustrated. You are an inspiration. ~

Falling Uphill: The Secret of Life. A true story about finding happiness in the last place left to look. By Scott Stoll. Book cover.

Falling Uphill: The Secret of Life

Synopsis: This is the true story about a man who bicycles around the world questing for the secret of life. His journey is full of many wonders, but he eventually returns home discouraged—only then does he discover the secret in the last place left to look.

Update 2019: Read it before you buy it. There is an all-new online and e=book edition. This edition also has the text and picture descriptions embedded for e-readers to assist the visually impaired. I’ve made this free to everyone because so many people from all over the world have written to say that they can’t afford to purchase a printed book.

starburst read it free online

More about this book: The children’s edition of Falling Uphill illustrated by elementary students it is my proudest accomplishment — a community project involving about 1500 people, bringing the real world of inspiration into the classroom and creating a book that we believe will inspire generations. Update: it has already inspired thousands when I was honored by the US Dept. of State to become the Cultural Ambassador to Argentina and along with 13 schools we created the Spanish edition Cayendo Hacia Arriba: El Secreto de la Vida.

Ilustración de Scott montando su bicicleta y cayendo cuesta arriba.

Cayendo Hacia Arriba:
El Secreto De La Vida

It has been the honor of a lifetime to be invited by the US Embassy and the schools of Argentina to collaborate on this special Spanish edition featuring all-new illustrations from the point of view of the Argentina culture and several new pages just for the Spanish edition. Once again the kids have been so creative that the book truly turned out better than I could have imagined, and now with a whole new level of meaning. More info.

A great educational tool

Now teachers can use both the English and Spanish children’s books to teach students about the diversity and similarities of culture and language.

Poplar Creek Elementary School photograph

Over 500 children and teachers standing on the playground in the shape of giant bicycle.
After seeing the world wonders and taking thousands of photographs, this is my favorite photograph that I made when I returned home.
Bicycle shaped kids school photo chalk outline
Bicycle shaped kids school photo chalk outline
Looking down at kids being guided into position on top of the chalk outline of a bicycle. It looks helter-skelter.
The students at Poplar Creek Elementary begin to line up on the chalk outline of a bicycle. Photo by Scott. He’s standing on the roof of the gymnasium with the custodian. This was one of the highlights of Scott’s life.

Read more about how this photograph was made.

Educational and Inspirational

Every book in the Make-A-Book project has two main themes: it’s both educational and inspirational. You can see a little of both in the pages below.

A picture of Scott bicycling around the world asking people what the secret of life is.
Scott bicycling around the world asking people what the secret of life is. Notice how each person has a different passion.
Scott surrounded by all the animals of the world like a elephant, giraffe, octopus, et cetera
This is a page from the section about all my adventures with the animals that I met, like almost being trampled by an elephant.
Scott with bicycle wheels for feet
This is one of my all-time, favorite illustrations. Believe it or not, there were days when I just felt like I was a part of my bicycle and that I could fly down the mountains.

How to fall uphill

how to fall uphill infographic

Here is a fun new graphic that I created. It has been simmering in my brain for years. I think it really captures the essence of how doubt and fear are essential to any adventure. The trick is harnessing that emotional fuel and turning disadvantages into advantages. Update: This graphic was actually adapted and used in our new book “Dream it!” to teach kids how to turn dreams into reality.

Now you can download the How to Fall Uphill Worksheet

How to fall uphill worksheets
How to fall uphill worksheets in black and white and color. Identify your dream and what step you are on. Good for kids and adults.


The feedback for the new children’s edition is beginning to arrive and it is fantastic. I’m honoured to have made such a difference, and truly all my readers have also made a big difference in my life by helping me live my dream, because what is an author without a reader but a tree falling in the forest? Forgive me if I don’t have time to post them all.

I am a substitute teacher in New Berlin and have worked at Poplar Creek for many years. My own children attended school there, so it has a special place in our lives. I was working at Poplar Creek the day you ‘flew’ up to the roof to take the picture of the students. I became one of many spokes on your bicycle that day! I also bought your book because I had heard so much about it and was excited to hear how your project had evolved. Today I received your book, and sat down immediately to enjoy your message and the uninhibited artwork that only children seem capable of! A year ago at this time, I was living with cancer and was just at the beginning of chemo and radiation. I found so many parallels within your bicycle trip story and my own journey, that I felt compelled to send you this note! I am comforted to know that others seek answers to questions about life, and that you also found that the answers come from within. I know I am a stronger person for finding that faith and belief in myself! May you experience continued blessings and wizardry in your future! You have certainly touched my life by sharing your story! Thanks so much!! ~

Thank you. I just finished reading “Falling Uphill” with tears streaming down my face. It’s beautifully written and illustrated. You are an inspiration. ~

Read more testimonials for the children’s edition here.

Acknowledgments: Working with Poplar Creek Elementary to create the children’s edition (middle-grade chapter book) of Falling Uphill is the result of years of education, years of work experience, years of exploration and heaps of love. This book wouldn’t be possible without the help of teachers like Kate Krzysik and Terry Berg, Principal Jane Gennerman, Assistant Principal Larry Lueck (individuals whose dedication to education has driven them far beyond the call of duty), the 507 students and their parents, and, of course, all the kind and wise people that helped guide me around the world and through the inner self.

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Author: Scott Stoll
Publisher: The Argonauts
ISBN-13: 978-0982784204
Publication: Second edition. © January 1, 2011
Language: English
Pages: 108

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More stories about the making of this book

The new book on the floor of the printer's shop waiting to be bound. Each stack is a set of pages.

The making of the book

Here is my new book on the floor of the print shop waiting to be bound. It’s the Spanish edition of the kid’s book, “Falling Uphill: The Secret of Life.” I needed to hover over the guys at the print shop because it just wasn’t getting done on schedule. Aah! And the books need to be on an airplane to Argentina the next day!

Chaco Governor Capitanich Cayendo Hacia Arriba

Spreading the love

U.S. Embassy Deputy Chief Mr. Brown presented the governor of Chaco, Argentina with gift copies of the book “Cayendo Hacia Arriba” by Scott Stoll, and illustrated by school students from the provinces of Chaco, Corrientes and Buenos Aires.

Screen Shot infobae 2011 09 23

My most popular story in the Americas

My most popular article about my bicycle ride around the world. It appeared in almost every country from Argentina all the way up to Canada. Quite probably millions of people saw this story.

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