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Bread and Roses, Too Hardcover – September 4, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Raver masters an impressive range of character voices—from recent Italian immigrants to America, to worried or wisecracking children and a shrill, know-it-all schoolteacher—in this recording of Paterson's novel about a historic 1912 labor strike in the Lawrence, Mass., textile mills. When her widowed mother and older sister join the strikers at the mill, young Rosa is sent temporarily from her family's tenement apartment to a foster family in Vermont for safekeeping. On the journey she discovers that an orphan boy from her town has stowed away on the train and wants to pose as her brother in Vermont. As the children adapt to—and later confess—their fib, listeners glean a wealth of historical background about the strengths and struggles in communities of Italian and other European immigrants in New England at that time. Paterson's story comes full-circle nicely, but lacks the strong character development and a certain drama that would make it a more compelling listen. Ages 10-up. (Nov. 2006)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 5-8–Paterson has drawn upon the facts of the famous 1912 Bread and Roses strike in the mills of Lawrence, MA, and the sympathetic response of the citizens of Barre, VT, to tell the story of two children enmeshed in complex events. Rosa Seruttis mother and older sister work in the mills and are joining the protest against unfair labor practices. Jake Beale works there to keep himself and his alcoholic father alive. As the strike turns ugly, arrangements are made for children to leave Lawrence temporarily, and Rosa is sent to an elderly couple, the Gerbatis, in Barre. After a terrifying incident in which he finds his father dead, Jake sneaks onto the train, mistaking its destination as New York City. He convinces Rosa to say he is her older brother and to persuade the Gerbatis to keep him, too. Illiterate Sal begs off going to school, working instead in Mr. Gerbatis stonecutting business where, despite fair treatment, the temptation to steal overwhelms him. Caught in the act, he learns that the forbidding man is really a compassionate soul who gives him the chance he needs to make a new life for himself. Paterson has skillfully woven true events and real historical figures into the fictional story and created vivid settings, clearly drawn characters, and a strong sense of the hardship and injustice faced by the mostly immigrant mill workers. Ethnic rivalries and prejudices play an important role, and the alternating points of view of Rosa and Jake allow for a broader picture and add tension and balance.–Marie Orlando, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 9
  • Lexile Measure: 810L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 275 pages
  • Publisher: Clarion Books; 1st edition (September 4, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618654798
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618654796
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,272,322 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Katherine Paterson has twice won both the Newbery Medal and the National Book Award. She received the 1998 Hans Christian Andersen Medal as well as the 2006 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award for the body of her work. An active promoter of reading and literacy, she lives with her husband, John, in Barre, Vermont. They have four children and seven grandchildren. Visit Katherine Paterson on her web site at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on September 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Doggone it, Katherine Paterson, stop making me cry! Under normal circumstances the number of books that make me tear up is a slim number that could be counted on one hand. And most of those books, if I was going to be honest with you, were probably written by Katherine Paterson. Ms. Paterson is a bit of a wonder. Year after year, decade after decade, she churns out consistently well-written meaningful pieces of children's fiction. The last book of Ms. Paterson's that I read was her rather remarkable, "The Same Stuff As Stars". Now, however, she's decided to traipse back into the world of historical fiction, alongside all the other authors this year, and produce a bit of fascinating history that can show a situation clear distinctions between good and bad, and yet leave enough room for people with nebulous motives. If complex narratives is the name of the game, consider Paterson a player.

On the one hand there's Jake. On the other hand there's Rosa. Both children live in Lawrence, Massachusetts in less than stellar conditions. For Jake, life is especially rough. His father's a drunkard who steals his son's money all the time and beats him senseless. And though Jake can usually make a little money in the local mills, it's rarely enough to keep him fed and warm. Rosa, in contrast, is relatively lucky. She lives with her mama, elder sister, and little baby brother in one of the city's many tenements. But life at the mill has been getting worse and worse and when it looks as if the mill owners are going to cut the workers' pay yet again, that's the straw that breaks the camel's back. Now Rosa's mother is joining in with the 1912 strike alongside workers from a variety of different backgrounds.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Robinson on February 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Bread and Roses, Too is told from the alternating perspectives of two very different children. Jake Beale has faked his papers to work at the local mill, is largely illiterate, and spends most of his time running away from his abusive, drunken father. He respects no one, and sleeps literally in garbage heaps. Rosa Serutti is the daughter of Italian immigrants, and attends school, though her mother and older sister work in the mills. She's studious, prissy, and quiet, and worries a lot.

Though they have different backgrounds and experiences, both children find their lives turned upside down when the Lawrence mill-workers go on strike. To tell the truth, neither reacts well. Jake steals, lies, and fails to appreciate people's kindness to him. Rosa lectures her mother about the perils of striking, and slinks along on the fringes of the marches and demonstrations that arise, even as she is sometimes inspired by them. I didn't much like either child, early in the story. But things do get better. Eventually, Jake and Rosa's lives intertwine. Rosa is sent away to live in safety with a family in Vermont, and Jake escapes along with her, towing a dark secret.

All of the major events in the book are based on meticulously researched historical events (as detailed in a historical note at the end of the book). The Lawrence strikes are depicted as they happened, in terms of local and state responses, the presence of union organizers, and the humanitarian "vacations" provided for many of the mill-workers children. Barre, Vermont really did host several children from Lawrence during the strikes. A photo of the children inspired the author to look further into the story.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Esther J. Ramer on March 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This lovely story tells about two children caught up in the infamous Lawrence, MA, mill strike of 1912. Rosa Serutti is caught between the anti-union pronouncements of her teacher and the harsh reality of tenement life for her immigrant family. Jake Beale runs from his alcoholic father and finds friends among the Italian mill-workers. As the story progresses, Rosa and Jake are taken in by Mr. and Mrs. Gerbati in Barre, Vermont. Here they receive clothing and food and love from Mrs. Gerbati, but both Jake and Mr. Gerbati are troubled by something from the past. Through the beauty of roses blooming from granite, Jake finds a new life and Mr. Gerbati breaks out of his shell. The strike ends and Rosa returns to her Italian mamma, the woman who deserved not only bread for her family, but roses too.

This is historical fiction of the highest calibre, with authentic details, well-developed characters, and a touching ending. It is a story of substance and beauty, too.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. Wilson-Tucker's Reading Classes on March 3, 2012
Format: Paperback
Do you enjoy books with very interesting historical moments? Do you like stories with a lot of detail? Do you like to read in order to learn about something? Are you fond of novels that you can emotionally relate to? Then Bread and Roses, Too by Katherine Paterson is the perfect book for you.
The novel, Bread and Roses, Too by Katherine Paterson, is great historical fiction. If this book were a movie, it would be rated PG-13 because of the violence in this story. In a five star rating system I would give this book five stars.
Bread and Roses, Too takes place in Lawrence, Massachusetts in 1912 during a mill workers' strike, which is perfect for history lovers. The main character in this story is Rosa, and she is scared that her mother and her sister Anna will get hurt while working in the mills. They are protesting for Anna's and other mill workers' rights. Those who feel that protesting is important would like this detail. Rosa decides to help protest for her family's rights, because they are Italian and Catholic, and the mill owners don't always treat them with the same respect, and many readers can relate to not being treated with full respect. Another main character in this story is Jake, and unlike Rosa, he likes mischief and getting into trouble. Jake's father dies, and the strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts is getting worse, and Rosa's mother decides to send Rosa to live in Barre, Vermont until the strike ends. Jake sneaks on the train as Rosa is leaving, and lives with Rosa's host family in Vermont. Rosa goes to school in her new home, and Jake helps Rosa and Jake's guardians at their job. The main conflict of this story is the upheaval in the lives of the characters because of the strike.
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