Steamboat! The Story of Captain Blanche Leathers

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Set in the late 1800s, when the Mississippi River was our country's grand highway, and the kind of the road was the steamboat, this fascinating picture-book biography tells the true story of Blanche Leathers, the first woman steamboat captain. Even as a young girl Blanche knew that navigating the mighty Mississippi required a special kind of river sense. But that didn't deter her. Blanche loved the Mississippi and held on to her dream. Years later this determined young woman took her pilot's exam, becoming the ...
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Overview

Set in the late 1800s, when the Mississippi River was our country's grand highway, and the kind of the road was the steamboat, this fascinating picture-book biography tells the true story of Blanche Leathers, the first woman steamboat captain. Even as a young girl Blanche knew that navigating the mighty Mississippi required a special kind of river sense. But that didn't deter her. Blanche loved the Mississippi and held on to her dream. Years later this determined young woman took her pilot's exam, becoming the first woman to captain a steamboat. Judith Heide Gilliland's lyrical text and Holly Meade's distinctive art capture life on the Mississippi and the glory of the steamboat as they tell the story of a young girl who became a legend on the river when piloting one of these grand boats was the dream of boys everywhere.

Author Biography: Judith Heide Gilliland was inspired to write about Blanche Leathers when she came upon an old photograph of her with the caption "First Woman Steamboat Captain." To research Steamboat!, the author and illustrator went to New Orleans, where they "walked in Blanche's footsteps" - saw her pilot's license and the grand tea sets and fancy tableware she used on board the Natchez, and stood at the helm of the Natchez IX. Judith Gilliland is the author of several notable picture books, including The Day of Ahmed's Secret and The House of Wisdom. She lives in Amherst, New Hampshire. Holly Meade has illustrated numerous popular and award-winning picture books, including Hush! by Minfong Ho, a Caldecott Honor Book, and Boss of the Plains by Laurie Carlson, which won the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Association Children's Book Award and was a Horn Book Fanfare Honor Book. She lives in Newburyport, Massachusetts.

Describes how Blanche Douglas Leathers studied the Mississippi River and passed the test to become a steamboat captain in 1894.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-This uneven picture-book biography of the first female American steamboat captain traces her childhood fascination with the Mississippi River to her passing her captain's exam. Gilliland uses a disconcerting present tense to tell the story. A single spread goes from 1872 when her subject is 12 to 1881 when she meets and marries Captain Leathers and learns to pilot. There is enough information to give readers a feel for how riverboat pilots "read" a river and of Leathers's accomplishments at a time when women did not captain anything. Unfortunately, Meade's collage-and-paint illustrations often do not suit the text. The captain may "stand tall" in the pilot house but even if readers know where to look, they'll see a man seeming to shake his fist at what he sees below, not standing tall. The unconvincing rendition of water, especially in the opening sequences, makes land seem to float above clouds while in other pictures water resembles caramel swirls. In interior scenes, however, the characters are personable and readers' eyes are drawn to details of riverboat life and period clothing. The author's endnote provides some historical background about steamboats and about Leathers, though readers might want to know if the business card depicted on the final page is authentic. It reads "Yes, I am a steamboatman"-a pretty saucy retort for 1894, but, if true, one more indicator that Leathers deserves a place in the early chronicles of women's rights.-Susan Hepler, Burgundy Farm Country Day School, Alexandria, VA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780789425850
  • Publisher: DK Publishing, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/15/2000
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 11.00 (w) x 10.30 (h) x 0.38 (d)

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2001

    Fantastic story

    I found this book to be enchanting!It is a very good story about a woman who makes a mark in American History.

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