Alice Ramsey's Grand Adventure

Book review by
Mary Dixon Weidler, Common Sense Media
Alice Ramsey's Grand Adventure Book Poster Image
Exciting tale of the first woman to drive across America.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Fun history lesson about a record-breaking woman, the first to drive across the U.S. Also shows the geographical sweep of farmland, cities, flatlands, and mountains she crossed.

Positive Messages

Follow your dream. Don't let anyone tell you you can't do something because you're a girl or a woman. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Alice Ramsey broke a barrier and a record, exceeding expectations of women in 1909. 

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Alice Ramsey's Grand Adventure tells the story of the first woman to hit the open trail and drive across the United States in 1909. It's an enjoyable true tale of someone finding her own place in history. The story also provides a mini-geography lesson, as the car chugs through farmland, cities, flatlands, and mountains.

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What's the story?

Talk about conquering the open road! Alice Ramsey did that and then some on her 59-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. 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 of Alice Ramsay and her companions as she became the first woman to drive across the United States in 1909. Can a drive in a vehicle that tops out at 42 miles per hour be considered an adventure in our hurry-up society? Yes! 

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.

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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