Monday, October 2, 2023

Alice Atherton's Grand Tour by Lesley M. M. Blume

Alice Atherton's Grand Tour is an enchanting book about her summer stay with her father's friends, the Murphy family. Alice is reeling from the recent loss of her mother and her somber, no-nonsense governess hasn't done much to improve the situation. Her father believes that the charms of the Murphy family (along with their children) will be exactly what Alice needs to revive her spirits.

Mr. and Mrs. Murphy and their children warmly welcome Alice into their family. Their days are filled with the sea and so many new adventures. And while she is visiting, Mr. and Mrs. Murphy have lined up some mentors for the children to learn from: Pablo Picasso, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and others. Each mentor offers different lessons (and some offer examples NOT to follow). 

Readers will learn right along with Alice about art, music, theatre, and writing through each of the selected mentors. The summer is a balm to Alice's grieving heart as her view of the world is expanded in so many interesting ways. Above all, Alice gets a taste of a very hands-on eduction that involves not only learning by hearing but learning by doing. The question is whether Alice will want to return home after all the excitement of life with the Murphy family!

The author sensitively approached the loss of a parent and the myriad of feelings that Alice experiences as a result.  Mr. and Mrs. Murphy serve as in loco parentis offering direction, connection and understanding--pushing Alice to try things she never dreamed she could. Don't we all need someone to push us outside of our own safety so we can experience more of life?  

This book would be a marvelous read aloud in the elementary or middle grade classroom to bring historical figures to life and hopefully inspire a greater appreciation for the arts in its many forms. How will Alice's magical summer conclude? Will she have to return to her stodgy governess or will she find a way to bring some of summer's magic back home to America? You will have to read it yourself to find out. 

I highly recommend this book and I loved the historical notes the author included as an Afterword about each of the mentors from the book. You'll also find out some interning information about the Murphy family as well. A wonderfully, imaginative, sweet story that introduces children to noteworthy figures within the arts and literature worlds.

Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of Alice Atherton's Grand Tour from NetGalley for the purpose of review No other compensation was received.

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