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Seven Brave Women

Press: Perfection Learning (January 24, 2006)
Publication Date:2006-2
Author Name:Hearne, Betsy; Andersen, Bethanne;


Take a journey through time as a young girl recounts the exploits of her female ancestors, seven brave women who left their imprints on the past and on her. 
Beginning with the great-great-great-grandmother who came to America on a wooden sailboat, these women were devout and determined and tireless and beloved.

From Booklist

Ages 5-8. 
In a world where history is often seen through the prism of war, Hearne introduces seven women of peace who also shaped history--through their creativeness, imagination, and, yes, bravery.
The narrator, at first unseen, begins with, "My great-great-great-grandmother did great things.
Elizabeth lived in the Revolutionary War, but she did not fight in it." Elizabeth came from Switzerland to America in a wooden sailboat and raised nine children here.
Great-great grandmother Eliza lived during the War of 1812 but did not fight.
She moved to Ohio in a covered wagon and made medicine from herbs and helped her neighbors have babies.
Each of the women left her mark on the young narrator, who is shown in the last spread.
She plays the flute and studies science and will make her own history.
Although this is about one family of women (Hearne's, as the author's note explains), children will grasp the universality in these lives, while at the same time they'll be eager to hear stories about what makes their own families special.
The text is strong and sure, with a cadence that makes it easy to read aloud.
Andersen's pictures--dreamy, pastel-colored oils--are well executed, but a bit soft for the sturdy text; however, they do keep the women in the forefront of each spread.
History units and genealogy projects are just a few of the places where this innovative piece will be integrated into the curriculum.
Ilene Cooper

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Kirkus Reviews

In eight two-page chapters, Hearne (Eliza's Dog, 1996, etc.) draws upon stories from her family to transcribe a history of feminine accomplishment. 
The undercurrent of personal history runs parallel to recorded history, marked mainly by war.
During the time of the Revolutionary War, a great-great-great- grandmother, a Mennonite, crossed the Atlantic Ocean in a wooden boat, with two small children and another on the way.
A great- grandmother rode into town on horseback, working art lessons into a day full of chores.
Another grandmother became an architect, and then designed and built her family a house.
The stories stress emotions (a love of art) and sympathetic human interaction (like storytelling) instead of what the author calls ``the wars that men fought.'' Soft pastel illustrations by Andersen (who illustrated Sandy Sasso Eisenberg's But God Remembered, 1995, and A Prayer for the Earth, p.
146) complement these tales of quiet courage and perseverance.
The young girl who narrates comes forth in the last chapter, knowing that she, too, can make history: ``There are a million ways to be brave.'' (Picture book.
5+) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP.
All rights reserved.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.


A splendid book for children, simply told but with a dead-on eye for  the telling details that define a life. 
This is a wonderful book about seven wonderful lives, and how the women who lived them created America, farm by farm, house by house, quilt by quilt, book by book.
(Ages 4 to 9) -- The New York Times Book Review, Anna Quindlen

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

In Her Own Words..."I grew up in an Alabama pine forest with no one to play with except a dog, cat, horse, cow, alligator, raccoon, possum, owl, and garter snake. 
None of them talked much.
They were pretty good listeners, though, and I learned from them to listen and also not to be afraid of silence.
Silence can be a writer ' s best friend when she needs to hear the voices in her head."Every once in a while I did make too much noise, especially when my father was listening to the radio, trying to glean the latest news of World War II.
If I spoke then, he would yell at me to be quiet and I would slink into the kitchen, where my mother always seemed to be chopping vegetables before dinner.
"Did I ever tell you (chop, chop, chop) how your great-grandmother (chop, chop) chopped her hand open one time (chop) and found her needle and thread (chop, chop) and dropped the needle into boiling water (chop, chop, chop) and sewed her left hand up with her right hand (chop)?" Who needed World War II? My heroes were in the kitchen."I also heard a lot of stories from the AfricanAmerican women who worked with my mother to help take care of the patients in my-father-thedoctor's clinic.
From listening to stories I branched out to reading stories.
I didn't go to school because our backwoods education system was so bad.
My mother taught me at home, and I wrote my first book for her birthday when I was four years old, a poetry book.
It was pretty short, but so was I."I didn't stay short, however.
When we moved to East Tennessee for better schooling, I managed to hit six feet by the sixth grade.
Because I was built like a tree, and because my parents were for integration before there was a civil rights movement (my mother was a Yankee and my father was from India), and because I was an outsider on all counts, I still didn't have anybody to play with.
I began to read stacks of books from the library.
I also practiced piano, guitar, voice, and harp and got hooked on Appalachian folk music, then Irish folk music, Jewish folk music, flamenco, and on around the world."When I got to college, the creative-writing teacher made all his students imitate either T.
Eliot or Ernest Hemingway, so I decided to continue writing on my own.
I majored in history and wrote a historical novel for my senior thesis.
But what about a job? I went to the public library looking for work.
They said there was an opening in the children's department, if I would take a children's literature course and start a storytelling program.
I told them the biggest story of all-that I could tell stories-and that story came true.
After a while, we had a hundred kids coming to the program every week."I began to review children's books, which I have done for thirty years, at Booklist and then at the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books.
My own poetry, fiction, and picture books were published.
I studied children's literature and folklore, got a Ph.D.
at the University of Chicago's Graduate Library School, and became a professor.
The funny thing was that after all the tales I had gotten to know about heroes, tricksters, fools, and fairies from cultures all around this country and the world, it still hadn't hit me that my true folklore came from the kitchen."Then during a storytelling class I started telling about the women in my family.
The students got quiet in a way I'd never heard, so quiet I could hear the voices in my head.
Those voices got stronger and stronger until one day the words became clear--words about my mother, my grandmother, my great-grandmother, my great-great-grandmother, and on back-and on forward, too, with my daughters speaking up for the future.
Seven Brave Women didn't take very long to write, but it took my whole life to hear.
And the best thing about it is the way those women wanted to share, not star, and the way readers have shared their own family stories in return.
Listening is still the best thing I ever learned."

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.


Children's Books,Growing Up & Facts of Life,Friendship, Social Skills & School Life,Girls & Women,Family Life

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Comment List (Total:9)

  •     Reading this book to my kids made me want to find out more about my own great-great-great grandmothers!

  •     My Granddaughters mostly enjoy this book. It is well written and interesting. It helps encourage an interest in "real" genealogy - the history of what our ancestors were, not just who they were by some dry statistics.But the author's insistence on continually stating that her female ancestors did not go to war actually rubbed me the wrong way! And I am mostly a pacifist. Women did not go to war in the past. Making it sound like these amazing women were even more amazing for not going to war is disingenuous, and a slam on those fine men who did risk their lives during WWII, or other wars when they faced the draft.W#hen I read the book, the girls and I have agreed that I will simply leave that part out. They have grandfathers, and great grandfathers who risked their lives during several wars (WW II and Vietnam) We have appropriate discussions about the reality of war. They pretty much understand what the Gramps did and why.

  •     My child brought this book home from school after receiving it from the school's librarian. While the book my be great for older kids, I do not recommend it for kindergarteners.

  •     I found this book to be simply inspirational. Hearne sets up a time line of sorts, depicting seven strong, determined women from her heritage who are rugged yet feminine and caring. Each woman differs remarkably in her interest and education, but is portrayed as a positive and vital part of the family. The focus on the wars through out the lives of these women demonstrates the integral part women played on the homefront, more often than not with out the credit they deserved. This is a book that would spark interest in female readers who might not otherwise be curious about their own heritage.

  •     Wonderful book!! I wish it were still in print. It has a fantastic message.

  •     Be careful, the production quality of this book is quite poor. I received a copy that was assembled in the wrong order. The first page after the cover was Chapter 7, the title page for the book was in the middle. The publisher/printer needs better quality control.

  •     My three year old daughter and I love reading this book together. She remembers details about why each ancestor of the author was brave. Then we talk about how she is brave. This book is a great way to introduce ancestors to children. After reading it, we made our own brave women book, pasting pictures of my kids grandmas and great grandmas with little stories about brave things they did.

  •     A book that tells the story of a family over generations, shows strong women, and expresses an unapologetic, matter of fact opposition to war would be of interest if it were not so well done. But it is well done. Telling the stories in the voice of the author's daughter is brilliant, tying the past to the future.The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous.I have bought copies of this book for my nieces and great-nieces, from adult to infant (OK, the infants will have to grow a bit before they understand, but even they like the pictures.) I think it would be good for the boys to read it, too, but I think that would be a harder sell.

  •     This book actually makes me tear up. I love how each mini summary of each person is presented in a way where bravery is redefined, not as fighting in a war-which is how we often get biography presented- but by doing what women have historically done: taking care of families, nursing babies while emigrating across the ocean, raised children, etc. I found it deep and great and celebratory of common, practical bravery in life in areas that are overlooked. I'm a feminist and I love how this showed my girls that generations of women have always done brave things and you don't have to fight to be heroic.


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