Honesdale, Pennsylvania; Calkins Creek, 2014
Strike! is a well-researched account of the struggle for the rights of farm workers beginning with Filipino workers migrating to the U.S. mainland in the early 20th Century and ending with the state of agricultural unions today. Although it is not an objective account of both sides of the labor struggle, it is accurate from the farm workers’ point of view. The conflicts are presentd with growers clearly in the role of the villain, but the divide between who is right and wrong is not so defined when discussing the inner workings of the unions and their leaders.
Most of us have heard about Cesar Chavez and the victories of the United Farm Workers of America; this book includes Chavez, of course, but goes beyond him to the origins of the causes of the labor conflict. Readers learn about the Filipino farm workers who worked the California fields for many years, about the abject poverty that migrant farm laborers endured, the dangers of the farm hand life, and the evolution of the unions that helped them improve their work lives. With photographs of leaders and the rank and file, editorial comics, and maps, along with some original documents, this volume in an excellent source for information on the labor side of this struggle.
Strike!’s design is appealing and the use of color blocking on the pages and positioning of images breaks up the text nicely, making the pages colorful despite the other elements being black and white. Brimner writes clearly, defining unfamiliar terms in a manner that does not condescend to his audience. In the back of the book are an interesting author’s note, timeline, sources for additional reading, detailed source notes and an index.
Brimner is a Sibert Award winning author with seveal other books on civil rights to his credit, and Strike! The Farm Workers’ Fight for Their Rights should be alongside them on the shelves of middle and high school libraries.
Dewey: 331.892 Interest Level: Grades 5-10
Awards & Reviews: Booklist Starred; Hornbook, Kirkus Reviews Starred; School Library Journal Starred.