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Working Cotton

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  317 ratings  ·  64 reviews
A young black girl relates the daily events of her family's migrant life in the cotton fields of central California.
Hardcover, 0 pages
Published February 15th 1997 by Turtleback Books (first published September 15th 1992)
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Alexandra "Alec"
When I first saw this book, I thought it was going to be about slavery. The first pages include pictures of school buses which really threw me off. This is a great way to show this kind of culture to students who might judge this book by its cover as well. The language might be hard to understand for some young children, but this also relates back to culture. This book could be read in a lesson involving Esperanza Rising and the subject of migrant farm workers especially in California.
Amy Foster
A straightfoward and beautifully presented book.
Araceli Aispuro
Working cotton is about a young girl and her sisters, Ruise, Jesmarie, and Leanne. They go out into the cotton fields to help their mother an father pick the cotton. Their work day starts early in the morning and ends at dark. The younger kids do not get their own sacks but instead pile the cotton for the adults to pick up. The cotton is weighed when the sack is full, the workers eat their lunch and continue working. The workers all get picked up once it gets too dark to work.

Working cotton is
Briana Nelson
Working Cotton is told from the perspective of a little girl. This picture book is about a day in a life of a family who picks cotton. It explains to us a typical day from when they wake up, pick cotton during the day, and return home. The diction in this story reveals that it’s somewhere in the south because it uses broken English- somewhat of a southern accent. The illustrations are soft and gentle, brushed using acrylic paint. The author chose to use light blues and yellows to represent soft ...more
I lived in an area that had a largely agricultural economy for a couple of years, so I've known a number of migrant working children and I completely understand the point this book tries to make. It is fascinating how the migrant farm workers in our country are so often neglected as a source for major concern. I remember riding to school and passing school buses with people sitting and two and three people deep on the seats. At my school, the children of these families would be temporarily enrol ...more
Working Cotton is set in the days of segregation in the cotton fields of the South. It’s a story about a little girl named Shelan and her family working in the cotton fields. Black workers were bused to the cotton fields with their children and meals in tow before daylight. Everyone in the field picked cotton except the babies, with the children putting the cotton they picked in their parent’s bags. The workers and their families were bus back home right before dark. The illustrations are
Jessica Vanhemel
This is a Caldecott honor book, it was published in 1992.

The first thing that I noticed about the book was the cover art, the expression on the little girls face really made me want to read this book. The illustrations really lend themselves to the story of this migrant working family and their average day. The illustrations are very impressionist, you get a hint of the picture, its not crystal clear but you can follow along. The illustrations really help tell the story, they sweep across the p

Summary: This child’s view of the long day’s work in the cotton fields, simply expressed in a poet’s resonant language, is a fresh and stirring look at migrant family life. “With its restrained poetic text and impressionist paintings, this is a picture book for older readers, too.”—Booklist

Written by : Sherley Anne Williams
Illustrated by: Carole Byard
Audience: k-2nd
Genre: general fiction
Topics: African Americans, Family, Friendship

Literary Elements: First Person Point of View, Similes, and metap
Sherry Thornberry
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Hollee Young
I really enjoyed reading this book. I liked the illustrations throughout the text. I love how they tied the history into it. It makes you realize how uneducated some African Americans that were put into slavery. Since they did not have the opportunity to receive the same education as whites they did not have correct pronunciation. I like how the author put you in the mind set of the little girl telling the story. I like how you got to see everything the way she did.
Lamar Sanders
Main Characters: Shelan and her family
Point of View: 1st person
Setting:Cotton field
Plot: The story follows a day in the life a young girl named Shelan whose family picks cotton for a living. Their day is covered from their arrival at the cold of dusk, through the sweltering day, till dusk. The families hardships are tempered through the innocent eyes of young Shelan.
Main Ideas:Sharecropping/Migrant Workers, Labor, Class, Family

I would cedrtainly recommend this book as it allows for the discussio
Having seen the vast vast cotton fields of the Mississippi Delta, the illustrations and text of this title were very real as to what it was like to work the cotton fields either as a slave or as in this title migrant workers. Incredible is the strength and endurance of those who lived this experience of migrant labors or previously those of slaves.
I like how the author demonstrated the characters voice. For example, the very first page it states, "We gets to the fields early, before it's even light. Sometime I still be sleep." This book can open the reader's eyes and see how it was for a family to pick cotton together. It was a very challenging demanding time back then.
Christine Medunycia
This story shows a family working hard together and still being a family while at it which I admire. The illustrations are beautiful, they show the hard work and the heat along with what a toll the hard work takes on their bodies. The young girl telling the story says it in a matter-of-fact manner and in slang. It makes the story real.
A day in the life of a migrant cotton worker as told through the eyes of a young girl is the premise of Working Cotton. Gorgeous acrylic paint illustrations help the story along, but the words are much too simple and easy-going to fully describe the hardship and long working hours put in by these determined people.
Angela Hutchinson
This book is about a little girl and her family picking cotton in the hot summer heat. The setting of this book is portrayed during the time of slavery. The girl talks about her life in the cotton fields and making friends that she knew she would never see again. This would be a good book to read to students when talking about the struggles pf the Africa-American people during their captivity.
This is a Caldecott Honor book and the illustrations clearly identify with that. I enjoyed this book being from a child's point of view about their work in the cotton fields because students would be able to relate to the child while reading. You could read this book when talking about the South and slavery.
Jordan Williams
This book uses great details that really make you feel you are experiencing it yourself. I feel bad for children that had to work in cotton fields. Well, I feel sorry for anyone that does. This book is somewhat of an eye opener. These people were hungry, thirsty, yet they never seemed to complain. Its sad to read, but apart of history that we should all be aware of.
The book, which won a 1993 Caldecott Honor award, is seen through the eyes of an African-American girl whose migrant family is working in the cotton fields. It is based off the author's own experiences as she and her family picked cotton when she was little in California, as well as a volume of poetry entitled "The Peacock Poems". The families get bused out early in the morning before the sun rises and work all day, all of them from Shelan, who is probably seven or eight, to her two older sister ...more
Working Cotton is a story about a child's view on a hard days work in the cotton fields. The author uses language that is fitting to the story. The illustrations are eye catching and help tell the story. Shelan is the child telling the story. She is not old enough to carry her own sack, but she helps her mamma fill up hers. She says her daddy can pick cotton so fasty that you don't even see him put it in his sack. Shelan wants to be able to carry and fill up her own sack but she is too young for ...more
Shelan and her family are migrant workers who pick cotton. It's hard work and Shelan's review of the day reveals the difficulties of picking in a field all day.

Like many readers, I initially thought that this was a story about slavery. Buses at the beginning of the story reveal that this is a modern story, though it could take place anytime from the 1940s to today. (I really, really hope not today.) The story is also written in dialect, and students will need support to understand some of the w
The most interesting point that I liked about this book was that it was the child's perspective of working in the cotton fields. I found myself feeling very sorry for the whole family as I read the story because of the conditions they had to work in, and the little girl having to work period when she was barely that old. However, I think it does show kids what it was like back in the time of slavery and what those families had to go through and the conditions they had to work in.
Sarah Snyder
This book is one of my favorites. The book tells the story of the child's life working in a cotton field. I loved how this author did the story in a poem. The illustrations were perfect for matching the story.
Kevin Ryan
Told from the child's point of view of the day in the life of picking cotton all day. she talks about how her entire family is doing the same thing as well. Author puts cotton picking in a neutral sense, however, by having the family singing and dancing throughout the book while faced with the hard labor of picking cotton.

Audience: 1-3 grade
Genre: Fiction story
Topic: picking cotton, african american

The illustrations in this book are nothing short of amazing. You can almost feel and smell everyt
Summary (CIP): A young black girl relates the daily events of her family's migrant life in the fields of central California.

Review: This book transports the reader to the unfamiliar world of a migrant working family. At first reading the time period and setting are hard to determine. The text is poetically written in a voice that sounds and feels authentic for this little girl in this time and place. The illustrations are beautiful, bright, and sensitive.

Horn Book liked it, "Byard's mural-like
Christian Lyles
This is a really good book, I hope it is just not to bad to read to children.
I liked the illustrations for this book, they complimented the story. The only thing that I found slightly annoying was the jargon of the story. I kind of wished that it had been written in proper english, so that it would have been easier to understand. But at the same time, the story would have lost a little bit of its feel. I can't say that I would recommend this book, it really just didn't do much for me.

*Taken from my book reviews blog:
As others have said, I opened this book thinking it was a cotton-plantation story, but it became clear from visual cues that this is a much more contemporary narrative. Reading the book gave me an experience I had never had - giving thought to the realities of everyday-migrant-worker lives. Byard's acrylic paintings - maximizing the territory of each two-page spread - bring that to life evocatively and brilliantly, as do the speech patterns of the African American characters and Williams' poetic ...more
In this beautifully illustrated book, author, Sherley Williams provides readers a glimpse into the daily routine for migrant field workers. Told from the perspective of a young African America girl, readers feel the solidarity and exhaustion that this line of work brings. Illustrator, Carole Byard, reinforces this message with her detailed acrylic paints. This text could be used to discuss child labor and child labor laws and would compliment Kids at Work: Lewis Hine and the Crusade Against Chil ...more
There's no question as to why this won a Caldecott Honor. The illustrations pull you right into the world of a migrant worker picking cotton. Not only do you feel like you could reach into the book and touch the cotton, you get a sense of the weariness of the workers as you watch sweat rolling down their faces. Told in first-person narrative from the point of view of a young girl who helps her family in the fields, the dialect might be a stumbling block for beginning readers.
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Sherley Anne Williams (August 25, 1944 – July 6, 1999) was an African-American poet, novelist, professor, and social critic. Many of her works tell stories about her life in the African-American community.

Williams was born in Bakersfield, California. When she was little her family picked cotton in order to get money. At the age of eight her father died of tuberculosis and when she was sixteen her
More about Sherley Anne Williams...
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