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The Brave Little Seamstress Hardcover – May 1, 2002

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (May 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689844867
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689844867
  • Product Dimensions: 10.5 x 0.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #907,186 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

"Seven with one blow!" Well, that's quite a brave little seamstress, isn't it? To characterize Mary Pope Osborne and Giselle Potter's fairy tale as a mere Grimm Brothers' rehash is to miss the point entirely. Although the pair has repurposed Grimm's The Brave Little Tailor to more feminist ends, they've hung onto the story's most grisly details while seamlessly slipping in a plucky heroine to brilliant effect.

As in Grimm, the action begins when our sweet seamster takes down a passel of houseflies with a well-aimed swat. She then commemorates that action in delicate embroidered script on her walking coat. ("Seven with one blow!") Buoyed by confidence and cleverness, the seamstress then almost accidentally makes short work of a giant, then two giants, then a unicorn, and even a wild boar, all just by "following her nose."

"'Amazing!' the king exclaimed. 'Could you possibly do just one more thing for my kingdom?' The little seamstress sighed. She'd begun to fear the king was taking advantage of her helpful nature."
But not to worry; despite her good nature, this seamstress is much too smart to be taken advantage of by such a clumsy king. Potter's thoughtful, funny work in ink and animated gouache complements Osborne to a tee, with segues and interludes nothing short of genius. The big payoff comes when our girl becomes a legend: "Out of a seamstress a great queen was made, as kind and wise as she was strong and brave." (Ages 4 to 8) --Paul Hughes

From Publishers Weekly

With this return engagement of the creators behind Kate and the Beanstalk, Osborne and Pope seem to be giving fairytale history a feminist makeover, one character at a time. Unleashing the same sass and spirit that lit up the pages of their first team effort, the collaborators here present a stalwart seamstress who, after slaying seven flies, embroiders "Seven with One Blow!" on the back of her favorite pink coat. She quickly decides that "her little workshop was far too small to contain her valor" and so sets off into the wide world, where her advertisement is repeatedly misinterpreted in a series of amusing encounters. When she's mistaken for a "woman warrior," for instance, her no-nonsense approach prompts two giants to polish each other off. Potter joins in the fun when she portrays the seamstress using her red-toned coat toreador-style to lure a unicorn into captivity. In a clever twist on the denouement, when a greedy king reneges on his promise to the heroine, Osborne sends an admiring knight to warn the seamstress, who then delivers the king's comeuppance and wins both his kingdom and the hand of the knight (she proposes, naturally). Osborne's jaunty retelling ("Her heart wagged with joy like the tail of a lamb") acts as the ideal springboard for Potter's wry illustrations, a comely pastiche of droll, spindly-legged characters and pastoral settings rendered in the same soft earth tones that marked their debut outing. This briskly imaginative romp will sew up fans' allegiance and gear them up for this pair's next Grimm makeover. All ages.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Roz Levine on August 12, 2002
Format: Hardcover
"One summer day a little seamstress sat by her window, eating bread and jam. When the jam attracted a swarm of flies, she tried to wave them away. But the flies, who didn't speak English, kept coming back. Finally the little seamstress lost her patience. She grabbed a cloth and swung it at the windowsill..." Looking down, the little seamstress was astonished to find that she had killed seven. She considered this feat so remarkable, that she embroidered her success on the back of her favorite coat. "Seven with one blow!" Well, the world needed to hear about this, and so the little seamstress put on her coat and set out on what turns out to be the adventure of a lifetime. Unfortunately, her message is misunderstood by everyone who sees it, and before her journey's finished, and she's living happily-ever-after as a good and wise queen, the little seamstress needs to outwit giants, capture a unicorn and a wild boar, and finally outsmart a not so nice king..... Mary Pope Osborne and Giselle Potter are back, and those who loved their first "female revisionist" fairy tale, Kate And The Beanstalk, will be delighted with this latest offering. Based on the old Brothers Grimm story, The Brave Little Tailor, this dynamic duo again give their spirited retelling a decidedly feminist twist. Ms Osborne's engaging text is filled with wit, and kids will be rooting for their resourceful and sassy heroine as she meets and conquers each challenge. Ms Potter's marvelously clever illustrations are rich in humor and eye-catching detail and capture the story beautifully. Perfect for youngsters 4-8, The Brave Little Seamstress is an entertaining, fun-filled read you definitely don't want to miss.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I loved reading this book to my daughter. The book stems from the classic story with a few updates, and the hero is now a female character. It shows how a smart woman can make anything happen!
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on October 12, 2002
Format: Hardcover
A little seamstress kills seven flies with one blow � and sets off to tell the world of her accomplishment, which she stitches on the back of her coat. When a giant sees her coat and believes '7 with one blow' means seven giants felled, trouble erupts in this whimsical take-off on the traditional story. Giselle Potter's drawings are fun.
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By Grace A Moone on December 27, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Love the art work!
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2 of 10 people found the following review helpful By waldorf_curric VINE VOICE on November 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The introduction to this book states that two women originally told this story to the Grimm brothers; and that the version retold by Andrew Lang was in fact most likely translated by a woman, since his wife, cousins, and other "literary young women" did most of his work for him. Because of this, the author says, she felt this story should have a female protagonist. I wonder about that; if all these women were responsible for carrying this story along through generations, they surely would have changed it to a female protagonist had they thought it necessary. It seems to me more respectful to the women involved to keep the story as they had wished it.

Regardless of your feelings on this misguided point of feminism, I have to say that this story didn't need to be retold. The illustrations are garish and tacky, the text simplistic and the dialogue forced and boorish. It seems as though Osborne was working really hard to make the story fun. Why she felt it needed "improving" I can't say. Get the original.
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More About the Author

Widely regarded among parents, teachers, and librarians for its power to instill a passion for reading, Mary Pope Osborne's award-winning Magic Tree House series is an international phenomenon and has sold more than 120 million books worldwide since its debut in 1992, and has been translated into 32 different languages in over 30 international markets. There are currently 51 Magic Tree House books and 28 Fact Trackers, the nonfiction companions to the fiction titles. All Magic Tree House books are available in print, as ebooks and Listening Library audio books, which are all narrated by Mary Pope Osborne. Visit for more information about the series, activities, and more.

The Magic Tree House Classroom Adventures Program is a free, comprehensive set of online educational resources for teachers developed by Mary Pope Osborne as gift to teachers, to thank them for their enthusiastic support of the series. Complete with lesson plans, curriculum guides, and creative activities, the Classroom Adventures Program incorporates every book in the series, including the nonfiction Fact Tracker titles, enabling teachers to build upon students' interest in Jack and Annie's adventures, while simultaneously meeting core curriculum standards across a multitude of subjects. Educators can learn more at

MARY POPE OSBORNE is an ardent advocate and supporter of children's literacy, and the award-winning author of more than 100 books for children and young adults, including novels, retellings of mythology and folklore, picture books, biographies, and mysteries. From 1993-1997, Ms. Osborne served as president of the Authors Guild, the country's leading organization for published authors. She has traveled extensively in the U.S. and abroad, visiting schools and speaking on issues related to children's literacy. She recently spoke at the UN regarding the importance of worldwide literacy and was profiled on NBC's Rock Center with Brian Williams for her continued efforts. Mary has donated over 250,000 books to children in need through her Gift of Books program. She resides in Connecticut. The creator of the Magic Tree House series, Ms. Osborne is also the coauthor of the companion Magic Tree House Fact Trackers series with her husband, WILL OSBORNE, and her sister, NATALIE POPE BOYCE.

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