New York; Balzer + Bray, 2013.

In honor of Women’s History Month, March’s non-fiction pick is about Clara Lemlich, a leader of the labor movement in the Garment District of New York in the early 20th Century.  Clara, a young immigrant, arrives in New York with her parents and discovers an America with factories that won’t hire her father, but are more than willing tro hire Clara.  She, along with throusands of other young immigrant girls, foregoes school to become a garment worker.

Though the hours are long, the pay low, and the conditions dangerous, Clara is undaunted.  She attends night school to learn English, studying and reading late into the night.  At work, as Clara talks with friends, she discovers the men think the women aren’t tough enough to strike for better working conditions.  As it turns out, however, it’s Clara who declares it is time to strike during a huge labor meeting when the men in charge fail to take action.  As the garment labor movement gathers steam, it is Clara who keeps the picketers motivated, even when thugs arrive to break it up.  Eventually, the strikers, with the support of wealthier suffragettes, are successful and the bosses increase wages and decrease the length of the work week. Encouraged by her success, Clara continues her work for the rights of workers for the rest of her life.

Every page of this picture book is detailed and interesting.  The illustrator uses textile scraps, blank graph paper, and pattern paper that look sewn onto the page.  Look closely to see if  elements are made of watercolor, newsprint, a time card, or a check for $27.50!  There is a short section at the end with more information about the Garment Industry between 1880 and 1920, with a bilbliography and list of primary sources.  This book is a must-have for any picture book collection!

CCSS:  Reading Standards for Informational Text: Grade 2, Standards 1-6, 8-10.  Grade 3, Standards 1-3, 5-10.  Grade 4, Standards 1-10.  Grade 5, Standards 1-10.

Dewey:  331.892                                                            Interest:  Grades K-4.

Awards & Reviews:  Booklist starred, Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, Horn Book, Kirkus Reviews starred, Publishers weekly starred; School Library Journal starred, Orbis Pictus Honor Book for Outstanding Non-Fiction, 2013.

Middle readers might like:  33 Things Every Girls Should Know About Women’s History:  From Suffragettes to Skirt Lengths to the E.R.A.  edited by Tonya Bolden.

Young Adult readers might like:  Pioneer Women:  The Lives of Women on the Frontier by Linda S. Peavy.

Fiction Pairing:  The Year We Were Famous by Carole Estby Dagg.