Children's Literature - Uma KrishnaswamiIt's 1909, and the motor car is a new phenomenon. The reader of this book is privileged to join sixteen-year-old Minna Jahns as she rides across the United States with Alice Ramsey, the first woman driver and only the third person to ever make the trip. Hyatt has turned painstaking research based on newspaper reports, interviews and the memoirs of Alice herself, into a fast-moving account of both an exciting journey and a fascinating time. From reporters in New York City to coyotes in Wyoming to a chocolate cake and lamb chop breakfast in Nevada, Minna's journal is filled with details that make both journey and time come alive. A map shows the route Alice and Minna (and their chaperones) took, and the author provides an afterword and 'car facts' that will also be of interest to the reader. This is a lively tribute to a woman and the spirit of her times.
School Library JournalGr 3-6-On June 9, 1909, Alice Ramsey powered up her Maxwell touring car and set off to drive herself and three other women from New York to California. She was the first woman to attempt the arduous cross-country journey, although two men had completed it in a little over two months. Coast to Coast with Alice is a fictional version of actual events, based on newspaper articles, interviews, and Ramsey's own memoirs. Hyatt's tale of the coast-to-coast trip unfolds in journal entries written by Minna Jahns, a spirited, adventurous 16-year-old who is one of the passengers. (Jahns did accompany Alice Ramsey on her historic drive in 1909, as author's notes and old photographs illustrate.) The travelers encounter Nebraska mud, treacherous bridges, and miles of unmapped roads-or, rather, dirt ruts that pass for roads. Fifty-nine days, eleven tire changes and three axles later, Alice's green Maxwell pulls into San Francisco, where the people hail her as the ``Woman Motorist of the Century.'' This is an interesting piece of automotive history, illustrated with charming and relevant photographs of the actual trip and cartoonlike illustrations that appear superfluous and overly quaint. Despite minor shortcomings in illustration and occasional lapses in the credibility of Minna's tone, Coast to Coast with Alice is a witty tale of adventure and a lighthearted exploration of women's changing roles.-Jennifer Fleming, Boston Public Library
Kay WeismanDuring the summer of 1909, 22-year-old Alice Ramsey became the first woman to drive across the U.S. from New York to San Francisco. Hyatt recounts the highlights of this remarkable automobile journey through the imagined diary entries of Ramsey's friend and passenger, 16-year-old Minna Jahns. Although they endured nasty weather, unpaved roads, inaccurate maps, car trouble, and bedbugs, the excitement and thrill of the adventure come to the forefront of Minna's account. Numerous clear black-and-white photos add interest and authenticity; unfortunately, the black-line cartoon drawings detract from the text and patronize readers. Appended with an afterword about Alice, a map of her route, a bibliography, and a discussion of cars, this will serve as a good example for students keeping their own travel diaries and make an interesting addition to women's studies units.
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