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Jackie and the Mona Lisa

Out Now!

Jackie Kennedy loved the arts. And America loved Jackie Kennedy. The first lady knew she had the country's attention--what would she do with it? Encourage Americans to appreciate art, of course! She turned the White House into a historical site filled with some of America's most treasured artifacts and pieces of art. She brought Shakespearean theater to the White House and ballerinas to the South Lawn. And most epically, she brought the Mona Lisa to the states (much to the chagrin of many Parisians) to encourage Americans to visit museums--and it worked! An inspiring story about one of the nation's most influential first ladies.

Jackie and the Mona Lisa


Check out some of the beautiful illustrations that were created by Jen Bricking!


My most recent book signing

The Next Chapter Bookstore, Sellersville, PA
Newtown Bookshop, Newtown, PA
Book Signings

Check out Jackie in the Press

From Booklist

Jackie and the Mona Lisa: “This “little known story of the sway, style, and persistence of America’s favorite First Lady” certainly delivers. The first time Jackie visited the White House, she was an unimpressed 11-year-old. It was drab and old-fashioned, didn’t showcase America’s history, and there was no guidebook! Later, when she became First Lady, she was disappointed that things were no different, but this time she could make a difference. She combined that drive with her love of beauty to make over not only her new home but also America’s relationship with art. The First Lady made an audacious move: she brought the Mona Lisa to the U.S., and it was a hit! Murphy’s upbeat, hopeful tale of a puzzlingly obscure story is matched here by Bricking’s saturated watercolors, reminiscent of the style of Eloise but showing Jackie, the White House, and—especially charming—the French public’s expressions of horror when a voyage is proposed for their dainty treasure. Back matter includes more about Jackie Kennedy—and refreshingly little about her husband—and about the Mona Lisa. A must for schools and public libraries.” 

The inspiring story of how first lady Jackie Kennedy organized the first ever exhibition of the world-famous Mona Lisa on American soil.  The White House that the Kennedys moved into was a drab, poorly cared for mansion. Determined to revamp its image, elevate its importance, and restore its historical artifacts, Mrs. Kennedy set to work renovating and redecorating. In order to increase interest in art, music, dance, and literature, she started the custom of using the White House as a venue for art shows, concerts, dance recitals, and more. To get the American public enthused about arts and culture, she devised a plan to bring the Mona Lisa, Leonardo da Vinci’s 450-year-old masterpiece, to America, a feat that posed many risks and logistical challenges. After much negotiation with the French government, Mrs. Kennedy succeeded in having the loaned painting displayed in two American museums. This nearly forgotten story is narrated simply with a deferential undertone. Bricking’s soft watercolor illustrations evoke nostalgia and skillfully bring the historical period to life. Murphy succeeds in showing how the new, youthful first lady, schooled in the arts and admired by the American public for her fashion style and French affiliation, exerted a huge influence on U.S. culture. While the role of first lady has evolved over the years, Jackie Kennedy’s trailblazing work remains relevant for today’s young readers. Background characters are racially diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)  A worthy tribute to the legacy of a storied and inspiring American icon. (author's note, additional facts) (Picture-book biography. 6-10)

From Kirkus

From School Library Journal

Gr 1-4–This lively story keeps the focus wholly on Jackie Kennedy, her love of art, and her desire to share it with the public. (Murphy does not name JFK, calling him “the president,” and he appears in only a couple illustrations.) It’s Jackie’s energy, diplomacy, and mastery of French that transforms the White House into a “living museum” and brings the Mona Lisa to the U.S. for Americans to see. Jackie was a true cultural ambassador, and readers will understand the impact of the First Lady’s vision. Bricking captures Jackie’s 1960s style and vivacious personality, and renders a really decent version of “the world’s most famous painting.” Back matter includes “More About Jackie” and “More About Mona Lisa” but no bibliography or further reading. VERDICT This book may well inspire museum visits; a delightful addition to public or elementary school shelves. –Jenny Arch

From Publisher's Weekly

This narrative nonfiction tale spotlights Jacqueline Lee Kennedy Onassis (1929–1994), her filling the White House with historically significant furniture to make “a living museum,” and efforts to inspire the public with art—particularly when she negotiated a 1963 loan of the Mona Lisa to museums in Washington, D.C., and New York City. Murphy narrates simply, with an attention to detail that will please young fact finders: “The Mona Lisa was placed in a bulletproof and waterproof container that could even float if the ship sank!” Bricking’s slender, thin-lined figures of varying ages, abilities, and skin tones, rendered in a cool palette, have a cartoonish bent in this straightforward, art-centered profile of a beloved first lady. Back matter includes more about Onassis and the Mona Lisa. Ages 7–8. (Mar.)

Jackie and Mona Lisa Blog Tour and More...

It has been so rewarding to see the positive reception for Jackie and the Mona Lisa since its publication. This recognition has manifested into opportunities to promote this amazing story through a blog tour and audio/video interviews. Take a look at Carol Baldwin's blog post where she interviews me as well as illustrator, Jen Bricking, to learn about the research and motivations behind the book. Similarly, check out Vivian Kirkfield's post where she writes about why she loves the book. I am always honored to hear about why people love this incredible story! Kathy Temean's post highlights the personal journey of both author and illustrator with the creation of our book. Additionally, you can view more printable resources in Susanna Hill's piece. Her feature shows how hard Jen and I worked to bring this story to life - through words and pictures! Take a look at the original book cover reveal on The American Moms website. See Marcia Strykowski's piece for additional information about this book's journey. It was super exciting to be on author Richard Lytton's "Author Hour" show on local TV. And take a listen to my interview on Courtney Hinshaw's Confetti Moments Podcast.where the teacher/children's book influencer talks to me about using Jackie and the Mona Lisa in the classroom. I enjoyed connecting with all of these wonderful individuals and I hope that I will have even more opportunities to share this story. 


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