The Bravest of Us All


Illustrator: Brad Sneed

Dial Books for Young Readers 

The Story Behind the Story

bravestkidsMy Grandmother Krehbiel's storm cellar was full of cobwebs, spiders, and sometimes snakes! Like Velma Jean, I was not partial to storm cellars! Still, Grandma's storm cellar inspired my book, The Bravest of Us All.

I included some of my father's boyhood memories in the book. Old Peddler Jack was modeled from a combination of peddlers my father had met as a boy. The peddlers came by his family's farm to barter. They carried thread, pencils, salves, and books. His parents had "old radiators, old batteries, and old hens" to give in return.


I also included some of my childhood memories—walking across sandburs, the moss in the stock tank, and picking sandhill plums.

Brad Sneed, the illustrator of The Bravest of Us All, lives in Kansas. When we first met in 2002 at the Children's Literature Festival in Warrensburg, Missouri, we shared lots of Kansas stories. Brad asked me if the name Lecklieder in The Bravest of Us All was a name of someone I knew. I told him it was the name of the family who lived down our country road.

It turns out Brad actually knows the grown-up, married Lecklieder girl, the young girl who once lived down the road from me! It is a small world!


bravest ded

The Bravest of Us All is dedicated to my father and his seven brothers and sisters, including Velma Jean and Ruby Jane. Here are the siblings with their "Mom" Emma and their "Pop" Henry.

  • Buy The Bravest Of Us All

  • Awards & Honors

  • Reviews

This book is now available as an app!


To find activities and lessons to accompany THE BRAVEST OF US ALL (written for homeschoolers, but wonderful for all) check out FIAR (Five in a Row). They have a fabulous "digital" unit with 60 pages worth of lessons on THE BRAVEST OF US ALL. It can be obtained for only $9 at the FIAR Digital Download Store:

fiar bravest

Book is out of print, availability limited!

powellsbutton amazonbutton bnbutton
  • Atlanta Parent Monthly Best Books of 2000
  • Bill Martin, Jr. Picture Book Award nominee, Kansas Reading Association, 2001
  • Missouri Show Me Readers Award Nominee 2002-2003
  • 2001 Missouri Reading Circle (reading list sponsored by Missouri Reading Assoc.)
  • Tennessee Volunteer State Award nominee
  • Mississippi Magnolia award nominee
  • 150 Best Kansas Books, selected for the Kansas Sesquicentennial by Kansas State Library


App Reviews


From ahgooreview: The author is a gripping story teller with obvious talent. I would love to see more of her stories as I thoroughly enjoyed this one. As I read it by myself the first time through...I heard Kathy Bates telling the story in my head. The narrator was really good but the voice was different than Kathy Bates and that's okay. It was more youthful and fit the story but as I read it I visualized a grown woman telling a tale of her youth. There is something about stories set in the South that I really love. There is something natural and real about them and this story doesn't disappoint. In fact, I might just go read it a third time...

The illustrations are absolutely amazing. They look like watercolors and they are stunning in their detail and clarity. I have only ever flown over Kansas or looked out at it from the Rockies but this book shows me the countryside as I would imagine it. I applaud the artist; he is amazing.

From the iphonemom: I enjoy all of the interactive brightness and boldness that the iPad has brought to book apps for children. I think it has been and continues to be a wonderful tool for engaging children in reading, especially early on. That being said, I very much appreciate a storybook app that looks and feels like an actual picture book. Oftentimes these apps were actually traditional picture books first. That doesn't mean they'll always execute well into an app but when they're done well they can be magical. The Bravest of Us All is one of those apps that's been done well. I loved it!


Book Reviews


From School Library Journal: "A simple story told with the authenticity of oft-told family history is set in Midwestern farm country..."

From The Sonoma County Independent: "So begins Marsha Diane Arnold's emotionally complex new picture book, featuring the rich and evocative illustrations of Brad Sneed. Arnold...has fashioned a reputation as the writer of children's books that adults can't wait to read aloud to their kids and grandkids...."

From Booklist: "This picture book connects the terror of the storm with a family story of courage and love."

From The Bulletin: ".....this title offers a fresh twist on the twister tale. When the storm has blown past, readers are left with the message that bravery and cowardice are far less important than sisterly compassion and loyalty."

From The Kansas City Star: "....folksy, affectionate tale about courage. Just looking at the children's sunburned faces rekindles the relentless heat and wind of a summer afternoon out in the fields. Any child who has ever experienced the dank mystery of a storm cellar, with its curious door that opens straight up from the ground, will enjoy its role in the story's exciting climax."

You are here: Home The Bravest of Us All