Saving Lady Liberty
Joseph Pulitzer’s Fight for the Statue of Liberty
By Claudia Friddell
Illustrated by Stacy Innerst
Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills & Kane
Here is the story of how the Statue of Liberty got its pedestal when Joseph Pulitzer, a Jewish immigrant and famous newsman, created one of the first American crowdfunding campaigns to raise money for it.
When Joseph Pulitzer first saw the Statue of Liberty’s head in Paris, he shared sculptor Auguste Bartholdi’s dream of seeing France’s gift of friendship stand in the New York harbor. Pulitzer loved words, and the word he loved best was liberty. Frustrated that many, especially wealthy New Yorkers, were not interested in paying for the statue’s needed pedestal, Pulitzer used his newspaper, the New York World, to call on all Americans to contribute. Claudia Friddell’s text and Stacy Innerst’s illustrations capture this inspiring story of how one immigrant brought together young and old, rich and poor, to raise funds for the completion of a treasured national monument.
Extensive Backmatter with afterword, fun facts about Lady Liberty and Joseph Pulitzer, quotations, photographs, timelines, and sources
Check out this link if you’d like to hear my interview along with my fabulous illustrator for Saving Lady Liberty, Stacy Innerst. It was a real treat to be interviewed by my editor, Carolyn Yoder, as Stacy and I shared researching, writing, and illustrating nuggets with New York City school librarians.
Booklist, starred review
“In this soaring account, which spans Pulitzer’s birth in Hungary to Lady Liberty’s debut in 1886, the author highlights both Pulitzer’s rags-to-riches personal success story and his profound idealism: he ‘had always loved words. And the word he loved best was liberty.’ Innerst adds to the high tone of this celebration with impressionistically brushed scenes of Lady Liberty’s grand features, her frail-looking champion bouncing back from multiple reverses, and ordinary people pitching in coins and small bills to see the iconic statue raised at last. Though histories of the Statue of Liberty often mention Pulitzer’s campaign, this is the most detailed presentation for younger audiences to date. Just another immigrant getting the job done.”
—Booklist, starred review
Beth Brandenburg’s Review of Author Visit at Wilson Elementary School in Coppell, Texas November 4th, 2020:
“Wilson Elementary 5th graders had the best celebration for the Statue of Liberty’s birthday. Claudia Friddell partnered with the National Park Service and Zoomed with our class for a question-and-answer session. Prior to the Zoom, Mrs. Friddell took time out of her busy schedule and contacted me several times to ensure this day would be special for the students. She sent a recorded reading of Saving Lady Liberty. During the reading, my learners were so engaged with the book. This book is filled with beautiful words and beautiful pictures. Mrs. Friddell also provided a lesson on Asking Good Questions. My learners came up with thought-provoking questions about Saving Lady Liberty. Mrs. Friddell was so welcoming and personable with my 5th graders. She took her time to answer questions with answers that lead to more discussions after the Zoom. They enjoyed asking her questions about the book and about her career. My learners will be talking about this day for a long time. Hands down, she is this class’s favorite author. We can’t wait to read Grace Banker and the Hello Girls Answer the Call.”
“We may think of crowdfunding as a contemporary innovation of our social media age, but in their impressive nonfiction picture book Saving Lady Liberty: Joseph Pulitzer’s Fight for the Statue of Liberty, author Claudia Friddell and illustrator Stacy Innerst celebrate the 19th-century campaign of Hungarian immigrant and self-made publishing icon Joseph Pulitzer to raise more than $100,000 for the Statue of Liberty.
Friddell traces Pulitzer’s early life and struggles as a newcomer to America, but focuses mainly on his efforts to use the pages of his newspaper, the New York World, to launch a public awareness and fundraising campaign for Lady Liberty. In 1884, when funds for the statue’s pedestal ran dry, Pulitzer scolded wealthy New Yorkers for their lack of support and used the New York World to make an appeal to the masses. More than 120,000 people responded, and Pulitzer fulfilled his promise to print all their names in his newspaper. Over a million people attended the dedication and unveiling ceremony of the statue in October of 1886.
Innerst’s sepia-toned illustrations evoke the book’s late 19th-century setting and make effective use of design elements, including newspaper headlines and examples of delightful handwritten letters that accompanied small donations from children. A boy named Mark sold “two pumpkins and one squash at the market this morning” and sent along 10 cents. There’s even a humorous note from the dog, a forerunner to today’s trend of canine social media stars.
Historians young and old will appreciate the book’s extensive back matter, which includes an afterword, timeline, a wonderful selection of historical photographs, facts about Pulitzer and the Statue of Liberty, a bibliography and online resources.
Inspiring and well executed, Saving Lady Liberty is a timely reminder of the power of ordinary people to exemplify the best American ideals.”
“A poor Jewish immigrant who understood what liberty meant crusaded for Lady Liberty’s pedestal. This is a well-written, inspiring ode to the contributions of immigrants. Pulitzer quotes and excerpts from some of his editorials are included; particularly wonderful are replicas of some handwritten letters from children who donated, literally, pennies. Atmospheric illustrations in brown and blue brushed on sepia-toned backgrounds give a historical feel… excellent information about Pulitzer and the Statue of Liberty… appears in the backmatter. Pulitzer’s permanent legacy now beams a beckoning welcome to all American newcomers—a timely reminder. “
School Library Journal
“This nonfiction picture book sheds light on Joseph Pulitzer’s connection to Lady Liberty and his role in bringing the American icon to the United States. Young readers will particularly enjoy reproductions of donation letters from kids, pledging money to support the cause. Innerst uses watercolor and acrylic paint, with some ink drawings. Back matter includes fun facts about the Statue of Liberty and Pulitzer, a bibliography, an afterword, a time line, and photos of the statue during its construction and inauguration. (T)his [biography] is a good jumping-off point for discussions of civic responsibility and philanthropy. “
The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“Friddell… [focuses] on New York World newspaper owner Joseph Pulitzer’s rags to riches backstory as a poor Hungarian immigrant who fought for the Union in the Civil War, worked odd jobs before his break into journalism, and used his public influence to cajole Americans into supporting Frederic Bartholdi’s monumental beacon. Innerst’s mixed media artwork, rendered in tan and sepia evocative of an era antedating color news coverage, have an airy, slightly hazy lightness that contrasts well with the weight of Liberty’s component copper parts scattered throughout scenes, awaiting their ultimate reassembly. Nine pages of end matter…could pivot a recreational read into a middle-grade research project.”
World Magazine Children’s Books
“In Saving Lady Liberty (Calkins Creek, 2020), Claudia Friddell tells the story of Joseph Pulitzer, a poor Jewish immigrant who became a crusader for the magnificent monument in New York’s harbor. Pulitzer used the power of the press to rally ordinary Americans to fund the pedestal for the Statue of Liberty. The book includes original quotes, editorial excerpts, and letters from children who donated, as well as interesting facts about Pulitzer and the statue.”