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Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909

Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909

Author:
Series: Biographical, Picture Book Bios
Genres: Fiction, Picture Books
Tags: Ages 3-5, Ages 5-8
ASIN: 0061804428
ISBN: 0061804428

Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers' Strike of 1909: When Clara arrived in America, she couldn't speak English. She didn't know that young women had to go to work, that they traded an education for long hours of labor.

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About the Book

Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909

The true story of the young immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history.

When Clara arrived in America, she couldn’t speak English. She didn’t know that young women had to go to work, that they traded an education for long hours of labor, that she was expected to grow up fast.

But that didn’t stop Clara. She went to night school, spent hours studying English, and helped support her family by sewing in a shirtwaist factory.

Clara never quit, and she never accepted that girls should be treated poorly and paid little. Fed up with the mistreatment of her fellow laborers, Clara led the largest walkout of women workers the country had seen.

From her short time in America, Clara learned that everyone deserved a fair chance. That you had to stand together and fight for what you wanted. And, most importantly, that you could do anything you put your mind to.

This picture book biography about Ukrainian immigrant Clara Lemlich tackles topics like activism and the U.S. garment industry. The art, by Caldecott Honor winner Melissa Sweet, beautifully incorporates stitching and fabric. A bibliography and an author’s note on the garment industry are included.

This picture book biography about the plight of immigrants in America in the early 1900s and the timeless fight for equality and justice should not be missed.

About the Author & Illustrator

Michelle Markel loves writing narrative nonfiction. She’s the author of Brave Girl, which won the Bank Street Flora Stieglitz Straus Award and the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award for Younger Children, and was also chosen as an NCTE Orbis Pictus Honor Book. Her recent titles are Hillary Rodham Clinton: Some Girls Are Born to Lead (on the Amelia Bloomer Project List of feminist literature) and Balderdash!: John Newbery and the Boisterous Birth of Children’s Books. She lives in Woodland Hills, California. You can visit her online at www.michellemarkel.com.

Melissa Sweet has illustrated more than one hundred books. Her work has been in magazines, on greeting cards, and on her living room walls. Melissa has received the Caldecott Honor Medal twice, among many other awards, including the Sibert Medal, and is a New York Times bestselling author and artist. Melissa lives in Maine. You can visit her at www.melissasweet.net.

A Few Reviews

“In the winter of 1909, a brave girl named Clara Lemlich, only five feet tall, picketed for workers’ rights. She arrived in America along with hundreds of other immigrants from eastern Europe, hardly speaking any English. But instead of her father being hired, it’s Clara the factories want, and off she goes to make women’s clothing in a garment factory from dawn till dusk. The conditions are appalling: “If you prick your finger and bleed on the cloth, you’re fined. If it happens a second time, you’re fired,” and more. While the men at the factory don’t think girls are strong enough to strike, Clara proves them wrong, eventually leading the “largest walkout of women workers in U.S. history.” Markel’s informative text buzzes with details of the oppressive conditions and neatly plays up Clara’s can-do spirit, but she perhaps tries to cover too much territory, and as a result, omits some crucial explanations (e.g., why can’t Clara’s father get hired?). However, Robert F. Sibert Medalist Sweet (Balloons over Broadway, 2011) creates punchy, vibrant collages that make up for any shortcomings. The zingy images masterfully (and appropriately) incorporate fabric and stitches as well as old images of checks and time cards. One particularly moving picture is seen from above as row upon row of workers toil away. A detailed note about the garment industry and a selected bibliography conclude. This book has fighting spirit in spades—you go, Clara!”  —Ann Kelley

From the Back Cover

When Clara Lemlich arrived in America, she couldn’t speak English. She didn’t know that young women had to go to work, that they traded an education for long hours of labor, that she was expected to grow up fast.

But that did not stop Clara.

She went to night school, spent hours studying English, and helped support her family by sewing in a factory.

Clara never quit. And she never accepted that girls should be treated poorly and paid little.

So Clara fought back. Fed up with the mistreatment of her fellow laborers, Clara led the largest walkout of women workers in the country’s history.

Clara had learned a lot from her short time in America. She learned that everyone deserved a fair chance. That you had to stand together and fight for what you wanted. And, most importantly, that you could do anything you put your mind to.


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