Cover image for Miss Bridie chose a shovel
Miss Bridie chose a shovel
Connor, Leslie.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 2004.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 29 cm
Miss Bridie emigrates to America in 1856 and chooses to bring a shovel, which proves to be a useful tool throughout her life.
Reading Level:
AD 1170 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 4.5 0.5 78071.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 5.2 3 Quiz: 40104 Guided reading level: U.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
J PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks
J PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
J PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

On Order



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.

Author Notes

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.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 1-4. When Miss Bridie left her thatched cottage in Ireland in 1856, she could have taken a chiming clock or a porcelain figurine. Instead, she takes a shovel, which serves her in good stead throughout her life. She uses it to steady herself on the ship to a new place, to dig a garden, and to clear a snowy path to a moonlit frozen river, where she meets the young man she will marry. The staid text has no frills, mimicking Miss Bridie's plain life. As she uses her shovel to plant apple trees on her farm, bank the land during a flood, and, when she is old, bury her husband, children will see that Miss Birdie takes life as it is offered, with an equanimity that faces down adversity and holds close moments of joy. Not every child will be taken with a story that follows the life of a young woman as she grows old. Yet the care and crafting evident here must be admired. Caldecott award-winner Azarian's sturdy woodcuts are an excellent choice to illustrate daily life in mid-nineteenth-century America, and her pictures catch some of the emotions that the text shies away from: the small smile of contentment that comes from working on the farm; the sorrow when a fire burns down everything Miss Bridie has worked for. This is a simple pleasure that will be truly appreciated by those old enough to understand the message. --Ilene Cooper Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

"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) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.