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Digging a Hole to Heaven: Coal Miner Boys Hardcover – Picture Book, September 2, 2014

4.5 out of 5 stars 5 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 4–6—This illustrated title explores 19th-century coal mines, combining features of both historical fiction and informational texts. The book brings readers into the world of fictional Conall, a 12-year-old coal miner. Mines employed boys as young as eight to separate coal from useless rock or to run beside rolling coal cars and jam sprags (thick sticks) into the wheels to stop them (the cars had no brakes.) The work was dark, dirty, and dangerous. Preteens worked as mule drivers, trapper boys, and spraggers. Daily life underground is depicted through Conall's story: his work, his family, and his role in a heroic rescue after a cave-in. The narrative comes alive with colorful descriptions, such as stout timbers that groan and a "massive mountain…forever leaning in upon itself." Beautiful textured paintings rendered in the style of 19th-century Plains Indian drawings, with acrylic on wood panels, accompany the narrative. Numerous sidebars and archival photographs ground the story in the real world. A comprehensive author's note adds context with information about the Industrial Revolution, child labor, mining disasters, and the future of coal in the global environment. The back matter adds further depth. Consider pairing this title with Michael Burgan's Breaker Boys: How a Photograph Helped End Child Labor (Compass Point, 2011) or Kashmira Sheth's compelling Boys Without Names (S. & S., 2010), a first-person narrative about child sweatshop workers in modern India. A strong, vivid look at child labor issues.—Toby Rajput, National Louis University, Skokie, IL

Review

"The narrative comes alive with colorful descriptions, such as stout timbers that groan and a “massive mountain...forever leaning in upon itself.” Beautiful textured paintings rendered in the style of 19th-century Plains Indian drawings, with acrylic on wood panels, accompany the narrative."
-- Toby Rajput, National Louis University, Skokie, IL, School Library Journal Published On: 2014-09-01

STARRED REVIEW
"The vivid narrative is valuable in helping readers understand not just the facts but also the experiences of miners in late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century America."
-- Carolyn Phelan, Booklist Published On: 2014-10-01

"The illustrations...are alive, historically accurate, expressive, and realistically rendered."
-- Marion Mueller, Library Media Consultant, Rawhide Starr Academy, New London, Wisconsin, Library Media Connection Published On: 2015-03-01

"Nelson’s acrylic-paint illustrations are gritty and realistic; more evocative still are the historical photographs that appear on nearly every page. A useful and thorough piece of work combining fiction and nonfiction, with an extensive author’s note detailing the history of coal mining."
, Kirkus Reviews

Product details

  • Grade level : 3 - 7
  • Item Weight : 1.48 pounds
  • Hardcover : 64 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1419707302
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1419707308
  • Dimensions : 10 x 0.5 x 10 inches
  • Publisher : Harry N. Abrams; Illustrated edition (September 2, 2014)
  • Reading level : 8 - 12 years
  • Language: : English
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5 ratings

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Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5
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4 star
31%
3 star
11%
2 star 0% (0%) 0%
1 star 0% (0%) 0%
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Reviewed in the United States on October 15, 2014
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Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 17, 2017
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