Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Historical Fiction
Bread and Roses, Too

Bread and Roses, Too

Fall 2006 Historical Fiction
Ages: 10 - 14 yrs.
Author: Katherine Paterson
ISBN: 0-618-65479-8
Hardcover Price: $16.00
Life in Lawrence, Massachusetts in 1912 wasn't easy. Thirteen-year old Jake lives with his savagely abusive father who takes the little bit of money Jake earns in the textile mill for drink. Jake frequently sleeps anywhere, a pile of garbage, rather than return to the shack he shares with his father.

Born to Italian immigrants, Rosa's parents and older sister work in the mills. After her father died in a mill accident, Rosa's mother took in a family of boarders. Even though they needed the money, Rosa's feisty mother insisted that twelve-year old Rosa attend school rather than work in the mill. Jake and Rosa meet when Rosa is looking through a pile of trash for a pair of shoes she had unwisely thrown away and discovers Jake instead.

With her unfailing empathy for the young, Paterson combines the thoughts and feelings of a timid child who is torn between the admonitions of an admired teacher who talks against an unfolding mill strike and her earthy Italian mother who, along with Rosa's older sister, participates wholeheartedly in the strike. Rosa, who is terrified that disaster will befall them all, is shipped off to Barre, Vermont with other children of the strikers to live with sympathetic Italian-American families until the strike is over. Jake stows away on the Vermont bound train and finagles his way into the family caring for Rosa.

Once again, Paterson displays her gift for bringing the hard past to life for present-day readers.

Kemie Nix   ©2006 Parents' Choice
Kemie Nix is Chairman of Children's Literature for Children (CLC), a non-profit, tax-exempt, educational organization dedicated to bringing children and books together. Mrs. Nix, a senior book editor for Parents' Choice, has a remarkable sense of selecting books children love to read.

Share This