The Lobster Lady
Alexandra S. D. Hinrichs, author
Alexandra S. D. Hinrichs has worked as a historical researcher at American Girl, a children’s librarian, and a children’s bookseller among other things. She earned MAs in United States History and Library & Information Studies and is the author of several children’s books, including The Lobster Lady; The Traveling Camera: Lewis Hine and the Fight to End Child Labor; and Thérèse Makes a Tapestry. Alexandra is currently a middle-school librarian in Bangor, Maine.
Read more about Alexandra.
Jamie Hogan, illustrator
Jamie Hogan is an award-winning illustrator living off on the coast of Maine on Peaks Island. She has illustrated many books for children, including Rickshaw Girl and Tiger Boy. She is the author and illustrator of Skywatcher.
Read more about Jamie.
- Coming soon!
This sweet, beautifully illustrated tale of one exceptional seafaring grandmother and her life in the Pine Tree State follows “the Lobster Lady,” Virginia Oliver, the oldest person lobstering in Maine. As the 102-year-old goes out on the boat for the day, she’s given a chance to reflect on over 90 years of lobstering and how, in the many decades of her life, she’s seen changes in her town, on the water, and in the trade. In a narrative told largely in short vignettes of flashbacks sure to resonate in places where traditional industries are a cultural touchstone, Virginia reflects on her pioneering life as the Lobster Lady to her family, friends, and the doctor stitching up a gash from a crab. While the illustrations are beautiful and soft, and the story is quiet and reflective, a child reader will likely need some adult assistance to grasp the context. For fans of picture-book biographies that are quiet, gentle reflections on a life lived boldly.
Maine librarian Hinrichs profiles 102-year-old Virginia Oliver, “the oldest person lobstering in Maine, and maybe even in the world!”
The Lobster Lady rises before dawn, eats breakfast, and sets out with her adult son Max to her boat (named Virginia after her years ago). Out on the water they pull their traps, measure and sort the lobsters, and band the claws of the keepers. When Virginia sets aside a crab, it claws her, and the injury requires stitches. The doctor’s tactless question—”What were you doing out there anyway?”—prompts a flow of memories: spending childhood summers on the Neck, an island where her father ran a store and blacksmith shop; returning the rest of the year to live with her aunts and grandparents on the mainland and attend school; learning to helm a boat; marrying a lobsterman; and doing various jobs but finally joining him on the water. The backmatter includes more information about the subject, changes in the industry and community, two simple recipes, and sources, including numerous admiring media accounts. This inspiring story is set on full-bleed images done with chalk pastel on roughened paper that convey a strong sense of the waterwoman’s world, the boats, the sea, the sky. Even more than the matter-of-fact text, the saturated illustrations chronicle Oliver’s long life and convey a rich sense of history. Most characters present White.
A cleverly told, engaging portrayal of an indomitable woman.
The amazing, 102-year-old Virginia Oliver goes out lobstering in Maine. Early in the morning, she is ready to go out on the boat with her son, Max. Her onboard tasks include preparing the bait for the traps, sorting the crustaceans, and banding the claws. Based on her personal experience, it can be dangerous and painful when the large claws snap close. Virginia shares moments from her childhood and life which the illustrator Hogan captures in bordered drawings created in pastels. She is passionate about lobstering; other jobs during her life did not fulfill her the same way. At the back of the book, there is additional information about Virginia, changes and challenges in lobstering industry, and recipes for a lobster roll and bean supper. Author Hinrichs lists different sources along with personal interviews used for the story; readers may want to explore the websites which include videos and articles documenting this remarkable Lobster Lady. Teachers may include this book in a unit on biographies, women, or incredible people.
Page count: 32
11 x 9