Based on Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters
by Lesley M. M. Blume
About the book
Cornelia is a lonely eleven year old girl living in busy New York City. Her mother, a famous pianist, leaves for extended periods of time traveling to exciting places to perform and vacation. Cornelia is left in the care of the housekeeper. Cornelia loves books and spends most of her days reading. She particularly loves learning new and unusual words which she likes to use on people in order to keep them at a distance. Cornelia’s life begins to change when she meets her new neighbors, an older lady named Virginia Somerset and her dog named Mister Kinyatta. Virginia begins to share with Cornelia some of the amazing adventures that she and her sisters experienced years earlier. Cornelia discovers that she and Virginia have a lot in common. Cornelia begins to see that there is more to life than just her love of words. The more she learns about Virginia, the more she learns about herself. Cornelia learns how to connect with other people. She learns that her mother has been hiding behind her music; at the same time, Cornelia learns that she has been hiding behind her vocabulary. With inspiration from Virginia, Cornelia begins a new, happier chapter in her life.
To extend students’ enjoyment of the book, try these:
Country Corner: Have students divide into four groups. Assign each group one of the following countries: Morocco, France, England, and India. Have groups research their country and prepare a display. Include in the display the following: a map of the country, the flag of the country, information about the economy, a brief history, major religions, and types of food. Have each group set up their display in one corner of the room. Have other classes visit and ask questions of the students about the county they researched.
Magazine Mania: Have students prepare a human interest article about Virginia Somerset. Have students prepare interview questions and the possible answers that Virginia might have given.
You Are a Travel Agent!: Discuss with students the various places that they have visited. Have students select one of the places and create a travel brochure for Gladys Somerset.
Picasso’s Pizzazz: While in Paris, the Somerset sisters met Picasso. Show the students examples of his work. Have students create their own painting in a style similar to Picasso’s.
The Fabulous Four: Have students complete a character analysis of the Somerset sisters. The analysis should address a personality description, a physical description, favorite adventures, and their impact on other people.