The Bravest Woman in America

Overview

Ida Lewis loved everything about the sea, so when her father became the official keeper of Lime Rock Lighthouse in Newport, Rhode Island, she couldn?t imagine anything better.

Throughout the years, Ida shadowed her father as he tended the lighthouse, listening raptly to his stories about treacherous storms, drowning sailors, and daring rescues. Under her father?s watchful eye, she learned to polish the lighthouse lens so the light would shine bright.  She learned to watch ...

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Overview

Ida Lewis loved everything about the sea, so when her father became the official keeper of Lime Rock Lighthouse in Newport, Rhode Island, she couldn’t imagine anything better.

Throughout the years, Ida shadowed her father as he tended the lighthouse, listening raptly to his stories about treacherous storms, drowning sailors, and daring rescues. Under her father’s watchful eye, she learned to polish the lighthouse lens so the light would shine bright.  She learned to watch the sea for any sign of trouble. And, most importantly, she learned to row.
 
Ida felt ready for anything—and she was.
 
Award-winning author Marissa Moss pairs up with award-winning illustrator Andrea U’Ren in a stunning collaboration that sheds light on a remarkable piece of history. Based on the true story of Ida Lewis, who was dubbed “the Bravest Woman in America” and who was recognized with the Congressional Life Saving Medal and the American Cross of Honor, this inspiring and unforgettable tale of courage and real-life heroism is a tribute to brave women everywhere. 
 

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Moss's (Sky High: The True Story of Maggie Gee) short, stirring biography of 19th-century lighthouse keeper Ida Lewis centers on Lewis's first rescue, at age 16, off the coast of Rhode Island. Lewis, who took over keeping duties at Lime Rock from her ailing father when she was a teenager, spent her life near the ocean. "She loved it when it was wild with froth.... the bite of salt in her nose as she breathed in the ocean air." After Lewis sees a boat with four boys capsize, a descriptive, dramatic narrative relates how she speeds into action, rowing to the scene and hauling each one into her craft. U'Ren's (Feeding the Sheep) bold, mixed-media illustrations capture the power and many moods of the sea, from calm ultramarine to the foam-topped dark slate and deep green of stormy waters. Heavy brushstrokes and black outlines (which make some illustrations resemble woodcuts) suggest the deliberate strength with which Ida carried out her vocation. An author's note reveals how Lewis went on to rescue others, receiving the Congressional Life Saving Medal and additional awards. Ages 5–8. (July)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Young Ida Lewis loves the sea by the Lime Rock Lighthouse in Newport, Rhode Island, where her father is the keeper in the mid-19th century. She begs to go with him when he rows out twice a day to check the light. He teaches her to row, and how to check the light, as he tells her stories of storms and rescues. When the Board decides that a keeper should live on Lime Rock, Ida is delighted to move there with him. When her father gets sick and she spies a boat in trouble, Ida is ready. She rows out into a storm, pulls four boys to safety, and rows back through crashing waves to shore. When she returns home, her father gives her his captain's hat. She has earned the right to be in charge of the lighthouse. U'Ren uses full and double pages to create robust naturalistic scenes of the sea. She applies her ink, watercolors, and acrylics to emphasize the ruggedness of the boats and the power of the sea. Ida in particular is depicted with heroic spirit. A photograph of Ida Lewis is included with the note that adds factual information about the life of this strong woman in our history, recognized for her heroism with the Congressional Live Saving Medal and the American Cross of Honor. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Kirkus Reviews

A girl who loves the sea becomes keeper and protector of those on the water.

Ida Lewis' father was the lighthouse keeper of Lime Rock, off Newport, R.I., and he took her with him, teaching her to light the lamps, to polish the lens and to row. When she was 15, her family moved to a house on the tiny island, and in the next year she and her mother took over the work when her father became ill. At 16, Ida rescued four boys, pulling them from the water and rowing through the wild sea to bring them to safety. U'Ren's watercolor, ink and acrylic paintings make the sea as rich a character as Ida, her father and the lighthouse are, waters now sleek, hard sapphire, now greeny and bubbling, now whitecapped and dangerous. An author's note relates that eventually Ida got the title as well as the work of lighthouse keeper and that she continued to save folks from the water even into her 60s. Ida died in 1911, before women got the vote, but her heroism was recognized by Congress and the press during her lifetime—Harper's Weekly, the New York Tribune and Putnam's Magazine all called her "the bravest woman in America." All that's missing is a little bibliography.

A fitting tribute to a tough and resolute woman. (Picture book/biography. 5-9)

From the Publisher
Review, School Library Journal, July 1, 2011:
"The simple, well-chosen text paired with the rich, impressionistic watercolor, ink, and acrylic art make this an excellent choice for a Women’s History Month read-aloud."

Review, Booklist, July 1, 2011:
"...the story is well told and dramatic, and Lewis makes a fine young heroine."

Review, The Horn Book, July/August 2011:
"The stirring events are beautifully visualized in U’Ren’s painterly watercolor, ink, and acrylic art: dark blues and greens suggest profound depths beneath waves that splash exuberantly under a luminous, ever-changing sky; the Lewis family brims with character and energy while Ida herself exudes good humor and determination; and the pivotal rescue is taut with compassion as well as drama. Altogether, this is an inviting introduction to a bygone but ever-intriguing profession."

Review, The Wall Street Journal, July 16, 2011:
"...in Marissa Moss's telling, and with Andrea U'Ren's rich, color-soaked illustrations, Ida's good cheer, moxie and resourcefulness evoke the work ethic of her time as much as her own intrepidness."

School Library Journal
Gr 1–5—Ida Lewis saved nearly 25 lives in her 39 years as the keeper of Lime Rock, a lighthouse off the coast of Newport, RI. The book begins with the young subject's early feelings for the sea. "She loved the crash of the waves, the screech of gulls wheeling overhead, the bite of salt in her nose as she breathed in the ocean air." When her father was made the lighthouse keeper, she eagerly assumed the role of apprentice, learning to row, tend the light, and watch for trouble at sea. Ida loved Pa's stories of storms and dramatic rescues and listened carefully to his advice and cautions. When he became sick, she and her mother took over, and at the age of 16, she singlehandedly rescued four drowning boys. Recognized by the press as well as the government and Red Cross, Lewis was considered "the bravest woman in America." The simple, well-chosen text paired with the rich, impressionistic watercolor, ink, and acrylic art make this an excellent choice for a Women's History Month read-aloud. Though the book focuses on the subject's early life, an author's note provides more information. Pair this with Peter and Connie Roop's Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie (Carolrhoda, 1987) for an illuminating storyhour.—Barbara Auerbach, PS 217, Brooklyn, NY
School Library Journal
Gr 1–5—Ida Lewis saved nearly 25 lives in her 39 years as the keeper of Lime Rock, a lighthouse off the coast of Newport, RI. The book begins with the young subject's early feelings for the sea. "She loved the crash of the waves, the screech of gulls wheeling overhead, the bite of salt in her nose as she breathed in the ocean air." When her father was made the lighthouse keeper, she eagerly assumed the role of apprentice, learning to row, tend the light, and watch for trouble at sea. Ida loved Pa's stories of storms and dramatic rescues and listened carefully to his advice and cautions. When he became sick, she and her mother took over, and at the age of 16, she singlehandedly rescued four drowning boys. Recognized by the press as well as the government and Red Cross, Lewis was considered "the bravest woman in America." The simple, well-chosen text paired with the rich, impressionistic watercolor, ink, and acrylic art make this an excellent choice for a Women's History Month read-aloud. Though the book focuses on the subject's early life, an author's note provides more information. Pair this with Peter and Connie Roop's Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie (Carolrhoda, 1987) for an illuminating storyhour.—Barbara Auerbach, PS 217, Brooklyn, NY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781582463698
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 7/12/2011
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 1,454,908
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.60 (w) x 10.60 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

MARISSA MOSS has written and illustrated more than 40 books. Her latest book with Tricycle Press, Sky High: The True Story of Maggie Gee, also a picture book biography about a strong female, was named a 2010 Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People, a Booklist 2010 Top Ten Biography, and an Amelia Bloomer Project Selection.

ANDREA U'REN is the author and illustrator of many books for children, including Mary Smith; Pugdog; Stormy's Hat, Just Right for a Railroad Man, written by Eric Kimmel; One Potato, Two Potato, written by Cynthia DeFelice; and Feeding the Sheep, written by Leda Schubert. She studied illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design and The Cooper Union.

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