Miss Bridie Chose a Shovel

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Overview

The journey begins for a young immigrant named Miss Bridie. It is a journey of hope and uncertainty, a journey that will take her to a new land, a new home, and—if she has chosen wisely—a good life.
With elegant woodcuts, Caldecott medalist Mary Azarian brings to life Leslie Connor’s spare story of a life rich with blessings, yet not without challenges. Here is a lyrical tribute to the millions of immigrants who left their homes to begin anew in America—and an enchanting look at...

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Overview

The journey begins for a young immigrant named Miss Bridie. It is a journey of hope and uncertainty, a journey that will take her to a new land, a new home, and—if she has chosen wisely—a good life.
With elegant woodcuts, Caldecott medalist Mary Azarian brings to life Leslie Connor’s spare story of a life rich with blessings, yet not without challenges. Here is a lyrical tribute to the millions of immigrants who left their homes to begin anew in America—and an enchanting look at how one woman carves out a life with the help of a common shovel.

Miss Bridie emigrates to America in 1856 and chooses to bring a shovel, which proves to be a useful tool throughout her life.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Caldecott award-winner Azarian's sturdy woodcuts are an excellent choice to illustrate the daily life in mid-nineteenth-century America... This is a simple pleasure that will be truly appreciated." Booklist, ALA, Starred Review

"A tribute to hard-working immigrants, but more so to a determined, hard-working woman who chose the practical over the trivial." Kirkus Reviews, Starred

"The well-turned, lilting narrative and beautifully matched artwork offers a stirring portrait of a woman of inspiring resourcefulness; the pronounced vertical format subtly emphasizes the heroine's ability to stand tall." Publishers Weekly, Starred

The New York Times
Books for young children come in categories: board books, picture books, chapter books. I have a category of my own: the lap book. They are the books a reasonably bright 3-year-old loves to look at while sitting in my lap and listening. A really good lap book will keep an entire group of 5-year-olds happy despite the 3-year-old in the reader's lap, if the reader turns the book around from time to time and allows conversation about the pictures. A truly great lap book is one an 8-year-old will return to, holding it on her lap as she sits on the floor, finding more and more to understand as her own world enlarges. Miss Bridie Chose a Shovel...may well be one of the truly great lap books.—Jane O'Reilly
Publishers Weekly
"She could have picked a chiming clock or a porcelain figurine, but Miss Bridie chose a shovel back in 1856," opens Connor's beguiling first children's book, which uses the single detail of the shovel to illuminate the whole of an immigrant's lifetime of pluck, struggle and grace. As Caldecott Medalist Azarian's (Snowflake Bentley) trademark woodcuts evoke a homespun beauty from her period settings, Connor describes Miss Bridie leaning on the shovel as she rocks in her cabin, crossing the Atlantic on a ship bound for New York; digging out a little garden behind the shop where she works and selling the plants she grows; and scraping the snow from the river in the city park, so she can skate-and, in the process, meets the man she will marry. Miss Bridie and her husband move to the country, run a farm and have children, and while their fortunes do not always run smoothly, Miss Bridie's self-reliance only grows stronger. When lightning strikes and fire destroys the barn, Miss Bridie searches through the ashes to find her shovel blade (an illustration to the left of one spread shows the couple stooping amid the smoldering rubble), then fashions a new handle (in the facing illustration, Miss Bridie works resolutely with her tools, the frame of a barn in clear view out her window). The well-turned, lilting narrative and beautifully matched artwork offer a stirring portrait of a woman of inspiring resourcefulness; the pronounced vertical format subtly emphasizes the heroine's ability to stand tall. Ages 4-8. (May) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
This fresh look at the experiences of an immigrant to America begins with a choice. Of all the items Miss Bridie could have taken with her on her brave voyage to New York in 1856, the shovel is her unusual choice. She first uses it to dig a garden and grow plants to sale. The shovel accompanies her to her farm home when she marries, where it proves very useful through the years for many purposes, from digging holes for fence posts, seeds, and a pond to shoveling coal. When the handle is burned in a terrible fire, she makes a new one and rebuilds. She uses it to plant a tree in her husband's memory when he dies, and to clear the snow from the frozen pond so her grandchildren can skate there. What a fine choice she made! Azarian's colored woodcuts in full and double-page scenes visualize this homespun history with appropriate details of objects, animals and landscape in a quiet, appealing, old-fashioned style. The medium tends to produce frozen moments which characterize the event, whether it's freeing a buggy stuck in the mud or waiting impatiently for bread to come out of a cast-iron stove. The story of a strong, resourceful woman in our history is an inspiring one. 2004, Houghton Mifflin Company, Ages 4 to 9.
—Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3-Instead of a pretty keepsake as a reminder of her homeland, the practical Miss Bridie selects a shovel to accompany her to a new life in America in 1856. Once in New York City, she uses it to plant flowers, which she sells to supplement her income from the millinery shop where she works. The implement is employed in a variety of ways over her lifetime, including clearing a pond for ice skating, digging postholes for fences on the farm she shares with her new husband, planting seeds for an apple orchard, and adding coal to the stove to keep her children warm. Azarian's accomplished woodcuts and watercolor illustrations adroitly convey the determination of a strong woman who lives a good, but often not easy, life. Through one or two sentences per page, the story shows her fortitude as she experiences the highs and lows of life, confident in the knowledge that, with her shovel, she can succeed at anything through her own ingenuity and hard work.-Maryann H. Owen, Racine Public Library, WI Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
She could have chosen a porcelain doll or a chiming clock, but Miss Bridie chose a shovel when she boarded a ship that sailed to America in 1856. From the start, the shovel is instrumental in shaping her life. From digging a garden behind the hat shop where she worked to getting married and moving to the country, where she dug post holes for animal pens and planted seeds for an orchard and a cornfield, the shovel was the tool that carved out the dimensions of her life. Splendid, adroit woodcuts provide just the right rustic look for the period and supply details not mentioned in the text, e.g., the "Millinery" shop sign and the tools she used to make a new handle for the shovel (which burned in a fire). The beginning sentence is repeated at the end, unifying the story. A tribute to hard-working immigrants, but more so to a determined, hard-working woman who chose the practical over the trivial. (Picture book. 5-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618305643
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 5/25/2004
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Edition description: None
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: AD1170L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 7.50 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.13 (d)

Meet the Author

Caldecott Medalist Mary Azarian is a consummate gardener and a skilled and original woodblock artist. Many of her prints are heavily influenced by her love of gardening, and her turn-of-the-century farmhouse is surrounded by gardens that reveal an artist's vision. Mary Azarian received the 1999 Caldecott Medal for SNOWFLAKE BENTLEY, written by Jacqueline Briggs Martin. She lives, skis, and gardens in Vermont.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 14, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Miss Bridie Chose a Shovel is just what I was looking for!

    I was searching for a children's book for my classroom. i wanted a story about immigration to plan a lesson around. i found this story and think it is terrific!. Beautiful wood carving illustrations really help to move the story along.I love how visual the story is for my students who are cognitively challenged. It incorporates historical information i have learned about in my immigration history class but at a level easily accessible for my readers!Thank you Leslie for such wonderful illustrations!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2005

    Miss Bridie Chose a Shovel

    My family and I thoroughly enjoyed Miss Bridie Chose a Shovel. I would suggest this book for all age levels. My mother has sent copies to numerous friends, as have I. This is a wonderful book for all. Leslie Connor has given us all a fabulous gift with her enlightening story. The illustrations are also unique, interesting and beautiful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2004

    A story about choices

    This is a story about making choices and the difference that makes in life. ' She could have picked a chiming clock or a porcelain figurine, but Miss Bridie chose a shovel back in 1856.' Thus begins the remarkable story of a young woman on her way to America. The resourceful heroine finds many uses for the shovel she chose throughtout her life. She leans on it during her shipboard journey and then uses it to plant seeds when she finally arrives in her new homeland. She met her future husband when she used the shovel to clear the ice for skating. The young couple travel westward to begin a new life in which the shovel is a valuable tool on their new farm. Miss Bridie (still so named despite her new marital status)helps her husband dig fence posts and plant trees. When the barn is burned to the ground the handle of the shovel is destroyed, but our heroine replaces the handle herself by fashioning a new one from a tree limb. She comes full circle in life planting a tree on the hillside where her husband is buried and clearing the ice to skate with her grandchildren. Miss Bridie and her shovel represent the indomitable spirit and courage of the pioneers. There are so few of these stories available for the first and second grade students, who are studying westward expansion. Azarian's wonderful woodcuts perfectly suit the text. Story and illustrations work beautifully together making this a very highly recommended purchase for both elementary school libraries and public libraries.

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