A perfectly matched pair presents a heartwarming double portrait, of a woman who became a New England legend and of the "windy ocean edge of Nantucket Island" that was her lifelong home. Evocative imagery and a clear admiration for her subject mark Weller's (Riptide) smooth narrative, which reveals how the vigilant Millie Jewett (1907-1990) fulfilled her grandmother's dictate: "Where life has set you, make a difference." Nearsighted but determined and strong, Millie devotes her days (and nights) to helping the Coast Guard. And when the local Coast Guard station closes its doors, she takes it upon herself to patrol the Madaket shoreline. She might never clean up her house, but she is always on hand, "sure as the tide," to battle a shark, sound the alert when boats run aground and "pluck survivors for a sea that tried to swallow them." Using the natural marine hues of Millie's rugged coastal world to striking effect, Sewall's (The Pilgrims of Plimoth) folksy, woodcut-like art has the same intimate, timeless quality as the story it helps tell. Reinforcing the heroine's bond with nature, the volume's design intermittently sets text within the art, against stretches of sand dunes, sky or sea. Though this biography will find an eager regional audience, the appeal of Millie's tale, like her generous spirit and the ocean she adored, is far more expansive. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Mildred Jewett was born and lived in Madaket, on Nantucket Island, her whole life. As a child, Millie learned to feel the rhythms of the ocean just as surely as she felt her own heartbeat. After watching and studying the Coast Guard, or Coasties, and the ocean for years, she knew that she could be in the lifesaving business just as they were. Her expertise was so valued, that years after being denied admission into the Coast Guard because of poor eyesight, she was bestowed with an honorary rank. After the Madaket station closed, she dedicated her life to taking care of her beloved island and its inhabitants. In this true story, Weller captures the spirit of a wonderfully inspiring, strong woman who wasn't afraid to follows her heart's desire.
Children's Literature - Trina Heidt
The jacket copy says it's a true story, the CIP calls it fiction, and there is something of the tall tale in the exploits of Mildred Jewett. A salty character if ever there was one, she took it upon herself to replace the Madaket Beach lifesaving service at the end of Nantucket Island when the Coast Guard closed its station after WW II. For more than 40 years, Millie patrolled the shore and was often the first to raise the alarm when a boat was in trouble. Islanders relied upon her "weather eye" to predict the severity of hurricanes, and the Coast Guard made her an honorary commander. Formidable in both physique and personality, Millie became a Nantucket legend, and died in 1990. Weller (I Wonder If I'll See a Whale, 1991, etc.) recounts the colorful details of this eccentric life in vernacular prose as laconic as the speech of Nantucket Islanders. Sewall's depictions of the Massachusetts coast are familiar from Thunder from the Clear Sky (1995) and its predecessors; here they feature strong masses of weathered-looking color enclosed within heavy black outlines, suggesting the windswept, sun-bleached island landscape.
A strong book about a strong woman who took to heart the admonition "Where life has set you, make a difference."