Alice Ramsey's Grand Adventure

Don Brown, Author, Don Brown, Illustrator Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $16 (32p) ISBN 978-0-395-70127-0
Brown (Ruth Law Thrills a Nation) rescues another American heroine from obscurity, here chronicling the first cross-country driving feat by a woman. Readers set off with Alice Ramsey on June 9, 1909, on the 59-day jaunt from New York to San Francisco. With colorful prose and deft watercolors, Brown evokes an era when automobiles were a novelty, maps were nonexistent, and a trip such as Ramsey's was daring indeed (and slow-going--her car's top speed was 42 miles an hour). Brown zeroes in on the kind of telling details that breathe life into the dry facts of history--from the intrepid Alice (decked out in goggles, enormous hat, and duster over voluminous skirts) negotiating an Illinois road ""clogged"" with pigs (""big pigs, little pigs, brown, black, and pink pigs!""), to the headlamps on her 1909 Maxwell (""Alice had to light them with a match""). The minimalist sketches have the air of being spontaneously composed along the journey. Whether Brown is depicting the Maxwell, a midnight blue desert under a ghostly moon, or the prone Alice, making repairs beneath her car with feet primly together in good ladylike fashion, he captures all the beauty, humor, danger and wonder of Ramsey's achievement. This road trip back in time is a grand adventure indeed. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1997
Release date: 09/01/1997
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