Cover image for Weaver's daughter
Weaver's daughter
Bradley, Kimberly Brubaker.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Delacorte Press, 2000.
Physical Description:
166 pages ; 22 cm
In 1791 after her family's journey from Pennsylvania, ten-year-old Lizzie suffers from the disease of asthma in her new home in the Southwest Territory (present-day Tennessee).
Reading Level:
600 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.0 4.0 44837.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 5.1 8 Quiz: 22800.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
FICTION Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
FICTION Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf

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It is 1791 in the Southwest Territory (now Tennessee), and Lizzy Baker loves her pioneer life. Her father is a farmer and her mother a weaver, and she and her sisters enjoy a hardworking life that is also filled with simple pleasures. Lizzy longs to grow up to be a weaver like her mother. But every autumn Lizzy gets sick. Now she is 10 years old, and the bouts of illness are getting worse. Neither the local doctor nor the midwife is sure what is wrong with Lizzy, let alone how to cure her. As soon as the winter frost comes, Lizzy gets well again, and this winter also brings some distraction in the form of rich neighbors--the fine Miss Sarah Beaumont and her handsome stepson are visiting from Charleston. Lizzy, though, is worried about next fall--can she survive this illness one more time? When fear threatens to overwhelm her, she learns an important truth about facing life, even in the shadow of death.

Author Notes

Kimberly Brubaker Bradley was raised in Fort Wayne, Indiana and her first novel was Ruthie's Gift. Her children's book, The War That Saved My Life, became a New York Times bestseller.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 5^-7. There's an aching sadness to this historical novel, told by 10-year-old Lizzy Baker, who has moved with her family to the Southwest Territory in the 1790s. Bradley creates a strong sense of daily life on the farm, where Lizzy and her sisters work hard with their parents to get by. Always underlying the family love and tension and the community support is the physicalness of Lizzy's illness: she has severe asthma. Doctors can do nothing, and she expects to die. She gets the chance to move with a rich family to Charleston, where the sea air may help her, but that means she has to leave home. Bradley is careful neither to sentimentalize nor exploit the illness. The characters are drawn with some complexity, including her Charleston family, who are kind to Lizzy, yet chillingly matter-of-fact about owning slaves ("That's how you run a plantation"). An afterword discusses medical treatment in Lizzy's time and Bradley's personal experience with asthma today, where modern treatment allows her to live a normal life. --Hazel Rochman

Publisher's Weekly Review

After writing two WWI novels (Ruthie's Gift and One-of-a-Kind Mallie), Bradley turns to the close of the 18th century to gently explore the fears of a pioneer girl afflicted with asthma. Lizzy Baker, a 10-year-old living in the Southwest Territory, dreads the coming of each autumn when she suffers her sick spells. Convinced that she cannot survive another bout, Lizzy is haunted by her impending death until a neighbor, the local midwife, reminds her that she has two choices about how to spend the rest of her days: to be "afraid of everything" or to be "afraid of nothing at all." The somber tone that permeates the first half of the book abruptly disperses when Lizzy consciously makes the latter choice and concentrates on the present. Readers will share the heroine's joy as she welcomes a new baby sister into the world and uses her talents at spinning and weaving to make a coverlet that is her "one own thing." Bradley introduces a family from Charleston, wealthy Mrs. Beaumont and her handsome stepson, to contrast attitudes from other parts of the country, including the Bakers' opposition to slavery and the subtle ways Lizzy and her sisters find to express their views. Besides shedding light on the era's customs, values and medicinal practices, the author conveys a comforting message through Lizzy's bittersweet experiences. Ages 8-12. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-6-Kimberly Brubaker Bradley's prose (Delacorte, 2000) is as spare as the Southwest Territory pioneer life she depicts. The narrator is ten-year-old Lizzy Baker who has suffered from severe, but undiagnosed asthma since she was six. Farming life in the 1790's is portrayed as insulated and hard; moreover, gatherings with neighbors and trips to town are infrequent. Lizzy's father farms while she and her two sisters help their pregnant mother with the weaving and spinning. The historical setting is rich, and the author accurately details the steps in the weaving process. Lizzy reveals her fears of dying and her struggle to embrace life. In keeping with the sparse life, the characters are not vividly drawn, and yet during this short novel, they do take on a subtle depth. Narrator Kate Forbes captures the voice of Lizzy and transports the audience to the hearthside and the conversation amid the clack of the loom. Historical details, the exploration of early medical treatments, and the thoughtful dialogue on slavery add interest. Asthma sufferers especially will be fascinated by the remedies of the 1790s.-Emily Herman, Mary Lin Elementary School, Atlanta, GA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter 1 "I can pick apples," I said. "I know a ripe one from a green one just as well as Hezzy and Nan." Ma stopped weaving. The clack-clack-thump that had filled the cabin all morning stopped too. "Better than Nan," I said. Ma looked at me for a long minute. "Sit," she said. "You are just as useful inside." "Yes, Ma." I squirmed. 'Twas autumn, and our old trees were filled with ripened fruit. I sliced an apple with Ma's knife and strung the slices on a string. I draped the strings above the hearth to dry. Piles of apples waited on the table in front of me. I could never keep up. 'Twas not fair. I should be picking, too, and then we could all slice and string. Clack-clack-thump, clack-clack-thump, clack-clack-thump. Ma was weaving a coverlet of indigo-blue and butternut-yellow wool. When she was finished she would take it to Jonesborough and trade it for a sow, a mother pig. Next spring we would have piglets, and after that we would be rich in ham and bacon and lard. I smothered a cough against my hand. I looked at Ma to see if she noticed. She did not. Her hands worked the loom steadily. Clack-clack-thump. I wished to be a weaver someday. Already I could weave plain cloth, and I spun better than both Nan and Hezzy. Nan did not have a mind for such things. Hezzy wove fancywork, near as well as Ma. A bird chirruped outside the open door. A red leaf blew into the cabin and lay against my foot. I kept my hands steady to their task but could not keep my mind so well occupied. It was autumn. My sickness time. And I felt the sickness coming. An apple rolled to the floor. I picked it up and bit into it. Its spicy sweetness filled my mouth. Our trees, neglected as they were before we came, still yielded good fruit. I looked about the cabin. Ma's loom, the bed and the underbed beneath it took up one whole side. Besides, we had a spinning wheel, table, two benches, even a ladder-back chair. Pa had built shelves on either side of the hearth to hold our cooking gear, and the half-loft above the loom and bed would soon be filled with the fruits of our harvest. Including the apples I was stringing. Clack-clack-thump, clack-clack-thump. I had awoken that morning with a tightness in my chest and a heaviness through my nose. Winter, spring, summer, all the year past, I had prayed every day like Jesus in the garden that this be taken from me. Clack-clack-thump. Suddenly I coughed hard. Clack. Ma's hands went still. The loom stopped. Ma looked to me. "'Tis nothing," I said. "Nothing." We both knew why Ma had kept me indoors today, but neither of us would say it. Hezzy burst through the doorway with a basket of apples. "That's three of mine now to Nan's one," she said, upending the basket onto the table. Apples rolled everywhere. Some fell to the floor. Ma and I looked at Hezzy. Slowly Ma smiled. "Aye, then, what has Nan found?" she asked. She thumped the beater onto her weaving and started the shuttle again. Clack-clack-thump, clack-clack-thump. Hezzy grinned. "Nothing but an old worm. She's watching it walk up a stick." I cut an apple and handed half to Hezzy. She ate it, smiling. I smiled back. Nan paid attention to small things. Hezzy was the one to climb among the tree's highest branches, Nan the one to sit and peer at a stick. My friend Suzy Pearlette said I was exactly in the middle of my sisters: halfway like Nan, halfway like Hezzy. But today I was neither on the ground nor in the tree. I was the one to sit in the cabin, to not pick apples at all. "Tell your sister to gather the windfalls for cider," Ma said. "She can do that while staring at worms." I coughed again, harder this time. Ma and Hezzy both froze. I frowned at them. "Are you ill?" Ma's voice rose sharply. I shook my head. I felt another cough coming on but shut my lips against it. My nose itched. I sneezed. Ma got up from the loom. "Your eyes are swollen," she said. "You should have spoke." "Truly I feel well." "There's a wind from the west." Hezzy shut the door. She reached above the loom and swung the paper window closed. The cabin darkened. "No, don't!" I said. "The wind doesn't make me ill." "Something does," Hezzy said. Ma studied me. "Some say mullein leaves cure congestion," she said, "or onion poultices to the chest." "Onions didn't help her last year," Hezzy said. "What does Ma Silver say?" Ma Silver was a midwife, newly come to our area. She grew herbs and doctored some when she wasn't busy birthing. Our old midwife had died--good riddance, some said. She had smelled of rum, and her cures rarely healed anyone. Ma Silver had birthed Mrs. Farah's last baby, and Mrs. Farah spoke well of her. Our ma shook her head. "I will ask," she said. I minded the Gospel message that we should be full of hope in the Lord. I said, "Perhaps this year won't be so bad." I didn't believe my own words. Dread filled me, fear of what lay ahead. Ma put her hand to my forehead. "Perhaps we will go to Jonesborough. There is a doctor there." I hated Jonesborough. I hated the noise and stink of so many people. "Take Hezzy," I said. "She wishes to see the fine folk. I would rather stay here." Hezzy snorted and went out. Hezzy would soon be thirteen. Of all of us she was the only one to care for finery, the only one to dream of silk dresses and sweetmeats. Hezzy was often impatient with me. Ma smiled gently. For a moment she pressed my head against her bosom. "Poor Lizzy," she said. "My poor daughter." I laid my knife on the table and put my arms around Ma. Her hard round belly poked my side. We had a baby coming, near Christmas we hoped. "What can't be cured must be endured," I whispered. 'Twas what Ma often said. "'Tis true," Ma answered, "yet we will cure you if we may." She went back to the loom. "Don't work more than you feel able," she said. "If you take a spell, rest for a while." "I won't take a spell," I said. I cut an apple in half with one stroke and smothered another cough on the back of my hand. Paring apples, how hard was that? While Nan and Hezzy worked outside in the sun. From the Trade Paperback edition. Excerpted from Weaver's Daughter by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.