Title: New York's Bravest (signed)
Publisher: Knopf, New York
Publication Date: 2002
Illustrator: Johnson, Steve and Fancher, Lou
Book Condition: Fine
Dust Jacket Condition: Dust Jacket Included
Signed: Signed by Author(s)
Edition: 1st ed
1st ptg., 4to picture book, illustrated boards, illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher and signed on a bookplate by the author and both illustrators. A tall tale about a 19th century fireman. Fine in fine, price-clipped dj. Signed by author and artists. Bookseller Inventory # 6379
Synopsis: In the 1840s, there was a real vounteer firefighter named Mose Humphreys whose bravery was reknown throughout New York City. Plays about him began being performed on Broadway in 1848 and over the years his strength and heroics took on larger-than-life proportions, much like those of Paul Bunyan. Mary Pope Osborne has honed down the legends about him to a brief, dramatic, sometimes comical, but ultimately moving text of picture book length. Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher?s stunning paintings capture this 8-foot-tall superhero rushing into burning buildings, saving babies and bankers, and wolfing down the feasts bestowed upon him by the grateful citizens of old New York?until the one big hotel fire after which he was never seen again. The author has included a historical note about the origins of this tall tale, and the book is dedicated to the 343 New York City firefighters who gave their lives to save others on September 11, 2001.
Mary Pope Osborne included a longer, different version of this legend in her distinguished collection American Tall Tales.
Review: Mary Pope Osborne (of Magic Tree House fame) honors the 343 firefighters who died on September 11 by retelling a 19th-century legend about another heroic NYC blaze battler.
Eight-feet-tall with "hands as big as Virginia hams," Mose Humphreys cuts a classic tall-tale figure, lifting trolley cars over his head and rescuing babies inside a stovepipe hat. And, echoing the World Trade Center attacks, "when others ran away from danger, Mose ran toward it." New York's Bravest follows the firefighting exploits of the mythic Mose and "his boys" in dramatic, near-theatrical spreads, right up to a fateful hotel fire near the Hudson: "All night, Mose ran in and out of the building, rescuing bankers, bakers, shoemakers, dressmakers, preachers, and politicians." But when the smoke clears, Mose is nowhere to be found. His fellows nervously hope that he's simply disappeared to drive a mule team in the Dakotas or to mine gold in California. But no, an old-timer later surmises, "Truth is, Mose is right here. He's marchin' with us in our parades. He's kickin' up his heels at our fancy dances.... And whenever we climb our ladders toward a blazing sky, he climbs with us."
Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher ably carry the alternating spectacle and pathos in New York's Bravest with colorful, outlandishly staged paintings. And while Pope Osborne's solemnity can border on maudlin (not surprising for a tribute), she ultimately succeeds in honoring our common potential for hope and simple courage, with the understanding that, while the bravery of one fancifully gifted individual might not be all that remarkable, the bravery of many--on and after September 11--certainly is.) (Ages 4 to 8) --Paul Hughes
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