Kirkus Reviews QR Code
NEW YORK’S BRAVEST by Mary Pope Osborne Kirkus Star


by Mary Pope Osborne & illustrated by Steve Johnson & Lou Fancher

Age Range: 5 - 8

Pub Date: Aug. 13th, 2002
ISBN: 0-375-82196-1
Publisher: Knopf

In response to September 11th, Osborne returned to her story of the legendary 19th-century New York City volunteer firefighter Mose Humphreys (American Tall Tales, 1991) and refashioned it into a stirring picture-book tribute to the 343 firefighters who died on that terrible day. Mose is larger than life and has no fear: “When others ran away from danger, Mose ran toward it.” Is a trolley blocking their path? Mose lifts it out of the way. Is a baby in danger in a burning tenement? Mose rescues him. All over town, in factories and tenements and mansions, Mose fights fires until the night a hotel burns to the ground and in the morning, he’s missing, never to be seen again. Then the rumors begin about supposed sightings. Wishful thinking, but in fact, he’s still with the department as they march in parades and climb ladders because he’s “the very spirit of New York City.” The large, textured oil paintings are full of vitality and depict an old New York with cobblestones, ragmen, sailing ships, and horse-drawn wagons. The red of Mose’s flannel shirt fills the oversized pages providing a comforting focal point. Not merely a title about one day of terror, Osborne’s brief but well-fashioned text stirs the spirit to celebrate a quiet and caring bravery. (historical note) (Picture book. 5-8)