Confession time. In addition to my love of cozy picture books, I enjoy young adult fiction from around the turn of the century. I especially enjoy reading novels set in high school and college as well as vintage adventure books from the 1910s through the 1930s. Books like the Anne of Green Gables series, the Betsy-Tacy books, the All-of-a-Kind Family series, and so on.
I think it is the combination of the historical aspect (I love history) and reading about the way things were done during that time. The books tend to be rather lighthearted and don’t have the same depressing themes that books seem to be overrun with today. As I’ve written before, I strongly prefer wholesome books both for me and my daughter.
So all that to say, when I had the opportunity to review a couple of vintage adventure books from the Aunt Claire Presents series, I was all in!
I received these books for free to review and am being compensated for my time. I was not required to write a positive review.
Vintage Adventure Books from Aunt Claire Presents
Aunt Claire Presents, published by Laboratory Books, are reprints of fun vintage adventure books that were widely read when they were originally written. The series currently includes:
The Automobile Girls at Newport by Laura Dent Crane
Grace Harlowe’s Freshman Year at High School by Jessie Graham Flower, A.M.
Coming up in the spring of 2018, two more books will be added to the collection:
The Girl Aviators and the Phantom Airship by Margaret Burnham
Grace Harlowe’s Sophomore Year at High School by Jessie Graham Flower, A.M.
The books are highly engaging with stories that move right along. As the Aunt Claire Presents website says, these are good stories, not great literature. If you are a literature snob, you probably won’t like these. If you enjoy a good vintage story, you should check them out.
At first I didn’t realize that Grace Harlowe’s Freshman Year at High School isn’t the next book after The Automobile Girls at Newport. I thought it was book two until I got to the end of The Automobile Girls at Newport and realized that the Grace in one of the books is a different Grace from the other book. Oh no! I needed to know what happens to the Automobile Girls! LOL! Seriously! There were several big hints in the book about a few developments that might happen so I set about finding the next books in the series.
(So, note to Aunt Claire – We need all the books ASAP!)
The books themselves are nicely done. The dust jackets are made of a thick, quality paper with beautiful colors. The books are quality. Under the dust jacket is the original book cover from 1910 which, as someone geeky about history, I find very cool.
(And I must briefly mention that one of the characters in The Automobile Girls at Newportis named Aunt Sallie. A character with my name almost never happens in books I read!)
Using Vintage Adventure Books for History
At this point, I haven’t read these with Caroline. I will eventually use them with her, but it’s not the right time yet. (She’s eleven right now.) I know if I wait another year or so they will fit her much better. But these books lend themselves very well to use as history supplements. One could use The Automobile Girls at Newport to create an entire unit study. There are many historical topics that pop up in the book as well as geographical locations. So many historical rabbit trails you could go down with these books.
Of great value in these books is the section at the beginning entitled “A Note from Aunt Claire” which provides excellent background information for the stories.
For example, Aunt Claire explains in The Automobile Girls at Newport about the newness of traveling by motor car, accessories women wanted/needed for traveling this way, etc. She uses vintage advertisements to illustrate what she is describing.
So many accessories needed!
She also explains why the girls in the books were adventurous in that day and age and how that was profoundly different in many way. Many young girls reading these books today wouldn’t fully grasp how unusual it was for young women to do some of the things the girls do in the story unless provided with that background information.
So the stories offer a plethora of great historical background, references, and all kinds of ways to learn more about the time period.
On the Aunt Claire Presents website, there are also a few resources that would be helpful for homeschoolers including two pages of writing prompts and discussion topics.
So I feel it is necessary to give a few disclaimers due to the climate of the culture in which we live.
One, please remember these books were written over one hundred years ago. They reflect the times in which they were written. If being politically correct is important to you and your child, then review the book first. I read vintage adventure books in the historical context in which they were written and that stuff doesn’t bother me in that context.
Two, if you are a Christian and you are very particular about non-Christian content, you might want to review the books first. For example, two of the girls dress up as gypsies and pretend to do fortune telling at a big party in The Automobile Girls at Newport. There are happenings like that and attitudes expressed in the stories that, again, reflect what was popular at the time in the secular world. These are not Christian books although God and prayer are both briefly mentioned.
Overall, I give them a big thumbs up. If you or your daughter like these kinds of books, they are well worth checking out. I plan on reading all of the stories that are available in the series whether Caroline takes to them or not. Or if you would like to add some stories to your history studies, these can work well. Enjoy!