cover image Madeket Millie

Madeket Millie

Frances Ward Weller. Philomel Books, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-399-22785-1

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.)