cover image Weaver's Daughter

Weaver's Daughter

Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers, $14.95 (160pp) ISBN 978-0-385-32769-5

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.)