Alice Ramsay's Grand Adventure

Book review by
Mary Dixon Weidler, Common Sense Media
Alice Ramsay's Grand Adventure Book Poster Image
The enjoyable story of Alice Ramsey.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that pleasant but unexceptional watercolors complement the story of a woman hitting the open trail, finding her own place in history, in this enjoyable true tale.

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What's the story?

Talk about conquering the open road! Alice Ramsey did that--and then some--on her fifty-nine-day trek across the country in 1909. This colorfully illustrated biography lets readers watch Alice's journey--and experience every pitfall and mud hole on that highway into history.

In 1909, Alice Ramsey drove out of New York City and onto the pages of history when she fulfilled her goal of being the first woman to drive across America. But the trip in that old Maxwell touring car wasn't an easy one. Despite the bumpy wagon trails, hailstorms, floods and the stops to allow pigs to cross, Alice saw the trip as an adventure, and fell in love with her country as viewed from a car with a top speed of forty-two miles an hour.

Is it any good?

Author Don Brown deftly details the hardships that Alice and her companions went through on her drive into history. Can a drive in a vehicle that tops out at 42 miles per hour be considered an adventure in this hurry-up society? "Yes!" a group of young children exclaimed after hearing the story of Alice Ramsey.

Brown's watercolors -- some full-page, others dotted around the text -- help the story move more quickly than Alice's Maxwell touring car did. Particularly clever are the dark pages with white text explaining how Alice had to drive at night through the hot desert. The story also provides a mini-geography lesson, as the car chugs through farmland, cities, flatlands, and mountains.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Ramsey's achievement in the context of its time. Why was what she did so notable? They also can talk about other famous female firsts and what made those achievements so important.

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