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Welcome to the next installment of my Book-Jumper Summer Reading Series! This is my way of inspiring parents who are looking for creative ways to keep their kids reading this summer. All of our protagonists are girls or women and most of our showcased authors are women as well. I will be offering up a combination of themed weeks, great novels, booklist giveaways, and blog post recaps so be sure and stop by to discover more wonderful ways have A Book-jumper Summer while Exploring Our World and Beyond!
This week I’d like to focus on the wonderful author, Michaela MacColl. Michaela attended Vassar College and Yale University. She earned degrees in multi-disciplinary history. Unfortunately, it took her 20 years to realize that was her passion and begin writing historical fiction. Her favorite stories are the ones she finds about the childhood experiences of famous people. What happened that helped them to be great? Michaela has two daughters so she’s hoping to identify those moments firsthand. She and her family live in Connecticut, but she will travel at the drop of hat to do local research.
We’ve all heard of the beloved author Louisa May Alcott, but how many of you can say you really know her? I’ll bet more than you think, especially if you’ve entertained yourselves with the tales of the March Sisters in Little Women. But there was more to Louisa’s life than her three sisters and her sharp pen.
Hard times have befallen the Alcott family. Money is scarce since her transcendentalist father refuses to work for anyone but himself because of his morals. Because her husband will not sacrifice her morals, Marmee Alcott must leave her family in Concord so that she may support them with her own work, leaving Louisa in charge of the household, her younger sister, and her father. Oh, yes, and her family’s role in the Underground Railroad.
Just before Marmee leaves to start work, a runaway slave appears on the Alcott’s property in need of help and a place to hide until his family can reach him. Louisa is the find him, and she now feels a loyalty to him. But George Freedman does not just bring his family running after him. A literate slave, George has a high bounty on his head, and a certain dangerous slave catcher has come running after him, bringing trouble for everyone in Louisa’s circle of friends.
Mr. Finch, the slave catcher soon discovers everyone’s secrets including, Mr. Pryor, the Railroad Conductor, Henry David Thoreau, Mrs. Emerson, and even the Alcotts. So many people want him gone, so how can Louisa narrow the list of suspects when Mr. Finch turns up dead on Ralph Waldo Emerson’s property a few feet away from her injured father.
With the help of friends, family, and her own, sharp intellect, Louisa May must discover the truth behind Mr. Finch’s death to prove everyone else’s innocence. But in Concord, Massachusetts, everyone has secrets. How to tell the truth from the lies?
This is the second book of Michaela MacColl’s that I have had the pleasure of reading. This crafty novel is suspenseful, endearing, and altogether witty. I loved learning about the famous American author. Her family’s involvement in the Underground railroad was a surprise to me, but one that I find extremely interesting! This novel is filled with factual information about Louisa May Alcott’s life, with only a few fictional liberties taken by Ms. MacColl. If you are a fan of Little Women, you will love getting a look into the real March family!
Facts about Louisa May Alcott:
~Louisa had three sisters, all who had paralleling characters in her famous novel Little Women. Jo’s fiery character was based off herself.
~Even though her family was destitute growing up, Louisa became very wealthy as an adult, wealthy enough to send her youngest sister to Paris to study art.
~Louisa preferred to write more adult themes, rather than for children. The success of the novel based on her life and her family continued to surprise her all throughout her life.
~Like many women of this time and before, Louisa originally published her work under a man’s pseudonym. A compilation of stories from her time as a nurse during the Civil War was her first work published under her name.
~Louisa never married, but she raised her youngest sister’s daughter when she died a few weeks after the birth.
*All of these fascinating facts and more about Ms. Alcott’s life can be found in the Author’s Note.
Later this week I’ll be sharing with you our visit to Orchard House and the Alcott’s. While visiting Concord we soon learned how close all of these famous American authors and thinkers lived to each other. Nathaniel Hawthorne lived right next door to the Alcott’s. Louisa’s father Bronson Alcott use to stand out in front of the house near the street, catching anyone passing by into lengthy intense discussions. Nathaniel Hawthorne was a very shy and solitary man. He had a pathway put in above their houses on the ridge so he could avoid Branson Alcott and his intense conversations.
Something To Do
Create a family Post Office-Here are some great ideas from the Pinterest Boards of one of my favorite bloggers; Growing Book by Book!
Louisa and her sisters had little personal mailboxes that they would leave notes for each other in. In little women, their neighbor Laurie would leave messages for them in a mailbox which was a very novel idea at the time. Why not have a little post office fun in your family. Here are some great ideas.
Read the book Little Women which is a fictionalized version of the Alcott family.
I was given a copy of this book for this for review. The opinions expressed are purely my own.
Do your young readers love nature and all of nature’s critters? Experience the magical story of a family of foxes that took up residence right in the front yard of the author and publisher, Valarie Budayr. The Fox Diaries: The Year the Foxes Came to our Garden offers an enthusiastically educational opportunity to observe this fox family grow and learn together.
From digging and hunting to playing and resting, this diary shares a rare glimpse into the private lives of Momma Rennie and her babies. Come watch as they navigate this wildly dangerous but still wonderful world. Great to share with your children or students, The Fox Diaries speaks to the importance of growing and learning both individually and as a family unit. It is a perfect book for story time or family sharing. Not only can you read about the daily rituals of this marvelous fox family, there is an information-packed resource section at the end of the book that includes lots of facts and even a few “fox movies” that you can enjoy with your family. Grab your copy of this beautiful and inspiring book HERE.