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Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers' Strike of 1909 Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 760L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Balzer + Bray; First Edition edition (January 22, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061804428
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061804427
  • Product Dimensions: 10.7 x 9 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,787 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

K-Gr 3-This picture-book biography of Clara Lemlich, a spitfire who fought hard for better working conditions, is an engaging, informative introduction to her activism as well as to the deplorable state of the U.S. garment industry in the early 1900s. Ukrainian-born Lemlich came to the United States with her parents to escape the Kishinev pogrom of 1903, only to be thrust into another appalling nightmare: the American shirtwaist factories. She began on a small scale to encourage her coworkers to strike, but at a union meeting, when even men wouldn't call for a walkout, she rose and shouted to the large gathering that the time for a strike was now, inspiring tens of thousands of women to leave their stations in the factories. Markel's style is clean and clear, making Lemlich's story accessible to a young audience. Readers are treated to solid information with a buoyant message about standing up for what is right. Sweet has created an outstanding backdrop for Markel's text with a vibrant collage of watercolor, gouache, blank dress-pattern paper, bookkeeping pages, stitches, and fabric pieces. This spirited account concludes with additional material on the garment industry and a solid bibliography. A first purchase.-Alyson Low, Fayetteville Public Library, ARα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* 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! Grades K-3. --Ann Kelley

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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This book is beautifully written and illustrated, and the story is a powerful one.
Nora A. Christman
This was enjoyed by all students, many having lots to say about this story, the history, immigrant experiences, etc.
Nicole Marquis
We would recommend it be read aloud in Social Studies classrooms to young elementary aged students.
Melissa Sack

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By joel on September 29, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Clara Lemlich is my Grandmother. On behalf of my entire family, I would like to thank all of you who offered such kind comments about her. I can assure you that not only was she a force to contend with in the shops but she was also a wonderful Grandmother as well. Did you know she was a vegetarian, had season tickets to the New York Opera, walked 3 miles everyday and made the best rugelach a grandchild could want!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By E.O. Life Coach on January 22, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In my Kindergarten class, we are doing a unit on "Change Makers" which got started with Martin Luther King Jr. I wanted to include other change makers that helped inspire change through non-violent action. I am so excited to be including her in my unit. Nicely illustrated, and simple enough for my 5 and 6 year old students.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Melissa Sack VINE VOICE on March 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover
In 1909, the world was a very different place. There were no laws in place to protect workers in the garment industry. This book is about a young lady named Clara Lemlich who worked hard to change that fact. Clara and fellow workers joined forces with members of the Women's Trade Union League and went on strike. Over time, Clara and her crew were able to make a change. This book is a great way to learn history. We would recommend it be read aloud in Social Studies classrooms to young elementary aged students.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Nicole Marquis on June 30, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers' Strike of 1909 by Micelle Markel, illustrated by Melissa Sweet
Balzer + Bray, 2013
Historical Fiction Picture Book
32 pages
Recommended for grades 3-5

I love sharing picture books with my third and fourth grade students. This was enjoyed by all students, many having lots to say about this story, the history, immigrant experiences, etc. Without one small young woman taking a stand, who knows how long others would have had to suffer until job laws changed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Nora A. Christman on January 2, 2014
Format: Hardcover
This book is beautifully written and illustrated, and the story is a powerful one. However even though it is a picture book and recommended for ages 4-9 on the dustjacket the story is intense. In the text it refers to Clara being beaten, her ribs broken, and hiding her bruises from her parents. My daughter is in kindergarten and was very alarmed and confused by this. We ended up closing the book halfway through and put it away for later.

My eight-year-old I think would be more prepared for the content of this book and I look forward to sharing it with him.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Z Hayes HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover
When I saw this book at our public library, I wondered if it would be something my eight-year-old daughter could understand. After all, I had never really explained what strikes were about, much less a little-known historical event (to me at least) of the Shirtwaist Makers' Strike of 1909.

I had little to fear as author Michelle Markel brings this event to life with simple yet evocative text, and her collaboration with Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator Melissa Sweet results in a beautifully-illustrated and well-worded picture book that made for an engaging read.

Both my daughter and I loved the way the author introduces readers to Clara:
"The surprise is dirt poor; just five feet tall, and hardly speaks a word of English.
Her name is Clara Lemlich.
This girl's got grit, and she's going to prove it.
Look out, New York!"

Diminutive Clara Lemlich may have been, but this girl certainly had courage and resilience. Forced to abandon schooling to help her immigrant family make ends meet, Clara worked at the garment factory with hundreds of other impoverished young girls, locked into an unsanitary work environment and toiling away for low wages. Yet Clara did not let her circumstances wear her down, instead this fiercely-determined young woman continued her education by checking books out of the local library and taking night classes.

Clara was also concerned about her fellow garment workers' rights, and advocated for better working conditions, finally leading them and other women factory workers in the largest walkout of its kind in the history of the United States.

The story is compelling and held my daughter's attention.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a beautiful book as far as the graphics are concerned. The "story" though is rather pedantic and not too interestingly told. Obviously, one wouldn't want the story to be too "graphic," but this was a very diffident telling of a really fraught topic.
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