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Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers' Strike of 1909
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Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers' Strike of 1909

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  3,287 ratings  ·  556 reviews
When Clara Lemlich arrived in America, she couldn't speak English. She didn't know that young women had to go to work, that they traded an education for long hours of labor, that she was expected to grow up fast.

But that did not stop Clara.

She went to night school, spent hours studying English, and helped support her family by sewing in a factory.

Clara never quit. And s
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published January 22nd 2013 by Balzer + Bray (first published 2013)
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Average rating 4.20  · 
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 ·  3,287 ratings  ·  556 reviews

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David Schaafsma
Mar 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picturebooks
An inspirational picturebook about girls and social justice, the 2014 winner of the Jane Addams Children's Book Award for Younger Children about something that we all need to recall in these anti-union times: The Garment Worker's strike of 1909 in NYC, led by mostly young women and girls, some as young as 12, who were protesting unjust treatment and abuses of various kinds--incredible hours, ill treatment for lateness, anything--locked for twelve hours and more in buildings, with phenomenally lo ...more
REVIEW OF THE KINDLE EDITION (and yes, the Kindle edition does seem to have a slightly different book title and the font sizes are definitely and once again a bit too annoyingly small for easy reading)

Although Michelle Markel's Brave Girl: Clara Lemlich and the Shirtwaist Makers does indeed and certainly provide a very meticulously researched and enlightening general introduction to both the Shirtwaist Makers Strike of 1909 and also to the horrible and often incredibly dangerous working conditio
Margo Tanenbaum
Get a jump on Women's History Month with this new picture book about Clara Lemlich, a remarkable 20th century labor leader. Picture books about early 20th century Jewish women labor leaders are not exactly published every day in the picture book universe, so I was especially eager to read this new work, illustrated by award-winning illustrator Melissa Sweet, about Clara Lemlich, best known for organizing the shirtwaist makers' strike of 1909.

We first meet Clara as she is arriving in the United
Paul  Hankins
The story of Clara Lemlich and the Shirtwaist Maker's Strike of 1909. We are, of course, not going to miss the instantaneous "ladders" to FLESH AND BLOOD SO CHEAP, right, friends?

This is a nicely written book by Michelle Markel with plenty of sentence variety to serve well as a mentor text for the younger reader. Creative uses of punctuation could serve as an introduction to the tricky nuances of the em dash. Varying sentence lengths could also serve well introduced in the Writer's Workshop with
3.5 out of 5

Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers' Strike of 1909 is a well-researched (it has a full-page bibliography at the end of the book) and engagingly written picturebook. But although the subject of the book and its heroine are inspiring, Michelle Markel's story seems a little bit simplistic and its tone is overly optimistic, and thus I was left mostly unmoved after reading it.

I appreciate the additional information about the garment industry at the end of the book; however, as ap
Audrey's Picture Books
The book is slightly overwrought at times, but engaging and solidly written. My biggest issue with it is the last sentence of its back matter: "Though there are still wrongs to be righted, today's workers have five-day workweeks, overtime pay, and other protections due in great part to labor leaders like Clara Lemlich and the thousands of brave girls who picketed in the winter of 1909." It sounds completely innocent, until you remember that the conditions Clara Lemlich and the other strikers wer ...more
Richie Partington
Richie’s Picks: BRAVE GIRL: CLARA AND THE SHIRTWAIST MAKER’S STRIKE OF 1909 by Michelle Markel and Melissa Sweet, ill,. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, January 2013, 32p., ISBN: 978-0-06-180442-7

“And maybe what’s good gets a little bit better
And maybe what’s bad gets gone”
-- David Shire/Norman Gimbel (1979)

“A Wisconsin judge on Friday struck down a state law passed last year that ended most collective-bargaining rights for many public-employee unions, saying the law violates constitutional rights
A picture book biography about Clara Lemlich, the brave strike organizer that worked hard to improve working conditions for the young women employed in the garment industry factories.

Very well written text reveals some of the most shocking atrocities young girls faced in the factories yet shines an ever powerful light on Clara's uncrushable spirit. Mixed media artwork is incredible. The pictures give the book a scrapbook feel as though readers are being told a story that has been passed down fr
Young Clara stands up for equal rights for all women in the garment industry at the beginning of the 20th century.
Brave and Mighty. Clara Lemich came to America with nothing and got a job at a shirt factory...she learned English, she witnessed inequity, and she used her voice to speak up. She inspired a strike that improved working conditions for all workers... but the horrendous fire in the Triangle Factory still happened.

The illustrations are superb. Lots of tiny stitches and fabric close-ups with enough detail to see the weaves in the fabric swatches.

LOVED this book, and so glad Clara is now part of the
Margaret Chind

Originally posted on Creative Madness Mama.

The inspiring true story of Clara Lemlich, a young immigrant girl who led the biggest strike of women workers in U.S. history

*This post has been updated with my new format as of January 26, 2016
with the Ultimate Book Blogger Plugin.*

Understandably an award winner!
This is an excellent historical non-fiction biography book for every child to read, but especially so to show little girls what a brave girl can make in a difference in the world and every on
Nov 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Clara Lemlich and her family came to America planning to find jobs, but no one will hire her father. The factories did want girls like Clara though, and so she started working in the garment industry. She worked from dusk to dawn in rows with other young girls, sewing as fast as she could. If they were late at all, they lost half a day’s wages. If they pricked their fingers and bled on the cloth they were fined, if it happened again they were fired. The doors were locked, there was no fresh air, ...more
Oct 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Jewish & women's history, union history
This is a brief look at the history of Clara Lemlich, one of the earliest and most successful union workers back when there were no rights for workers. There is a fascinating chart on the back showing how many CENTS per hour these workers, some as young as 12, were making to get their total of a stunning six dollars per day employment. Yes, Six dollars per DAY. I rather wished that it had been cataloged under biography but I can see why the economic Dewey number was used. Hopefully some children ...more
Kellee Moye
Full review at:

Clara and her family immigrated to New York. They were searching for the American dream. When her father could not find a job, Clara quit school and became a garment worker to support her family. The conditions at her factory were appalling: low wages, unfair rules, and locks on the door. After discussions between the workers, Clara helps urge the girls to fight for their rights.

I am sucker for this biographical picture book for two reasons
I was looking forward to reading this book, but found it to be a bit disappointing. I'm not sure that little children would be at all interested. As a way of introducing the history of factory workers and labor movement history, this book could be okay and would be better if it dealt a bit more with the conditions in the factories and the dangers. As it is, the reader doesn't develop a sympathetic feeling for Clara. She is presented as strident, and the book comes off as mostly a call for unioni ...more
The page describing Clara starting work as a garment worker is surrounding by strips of cloth; and the next page is an aerial shot of rows of garment workers, making them look like a patch of cloth themselves; and the page outlining the tough rules has illustrations evocative of scraps of cloth. Those pages are really excellently illustrated -- brava, Melissa Sweet.

I love that Clara is the one who proposes a general strike (the small strikes haven't been effective, because the bosses keep findin
Alex  Baugh
Jan 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: randomly-reading
When Clara Lemlich emigrated to the United States with her family in the early 1900s, she didn't speak much English. She was a young girl who should have been in school, but instead, she took her sewing machine and went to work as a seamstress in a factory to help out her family when her father couldn't get work.

Clara may have been one of thousands and thousands of young garment workers in New York City and throughout the country, but Clara was also smart and ambitious. So she signed up for nigh
Baby Bookworm
Aug 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: our-reviews

This review was originally written for The Baby Bookworm. Visit us for new picture books reviews daily!

Hello, friends! Today’s book is Brave Girl: Clara And The Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike Of 1909, written by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet, a picture book biography of Clara Lemlich, one of the organizers of a massive protest of garment workers at the turn of the century.

To look at Clara Lemlich when she arrived in New York City, she wouldn’t have looked like much: five feet tall,
Esther Yoo
Apr 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wow
Through unity, powerful movements to change society are born! In Brave Girl, Clara and the Shirtwaist Maker's Strike of 1909, Michelle Markel writes an inspirational story of a young girl who led one of the most impactful strikes in the history of women workers. This story revolves around a young Clara Lemlich, who came to the United States as an immigrant and worked as a garment worker, alongside hundreds of other women. Though she was small in stature, she definitely was not afraid to stand ag ...more
Mar 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Twin-Text: Marching with Aunt Susan: Susan B. Anthony and the Fight for Women's Suffrage by Claire Rudolf Murphy Stacey Schuett (Illustrator) October 1, 2011

Rationale: I just got both of these books this morning (took a bit longer to arrive than I had planned) My class has been talking about equal rights and discrimination among the races but I was also looking for books that would explain discrimination based on gender as well. Both Brave Girl and Marching with Aunt Susan focused on this aspect
Oct 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: info-bios
This is an informational picture book that won great reviews. It follows the life of Clara who is an immigrant to the U.S.. She was hired to make clothes in a factory with several other factory workers. In the early 1900's factory conditions were very harsh and the illustrations did a great job of depicting this. They are all realistic images that make the words on the page come to life. Clara feels frustrated and defeated at times because she didn't think America was going to be the way that it ...more
Full of hope for a bright future immigrant Clara Lemlich arrives in New York City only to face harsh working conditions in her new job. Along with other young women in 1909, she works in a sweatshop sewing women's clothing. The workers are locked inside the building and searched when they leave. Clara ends up encouraging the girls to walk a picket line for better pay and working conditions, and then when the leaders of the city-wide labor movement hesitate to call a strike, she steps forward and ...more
Jun 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I absolutely love this book. This book is full of hope and girl power. It is about a girl named Clara Lemlich , and her family who came to America, to find jobs and live the American dream. only to find out he dad couldn't find a job. Clara, could hardly speak e quit school to find a job. She was only five feet tall so no factory would hire her. so she started working in the garment industry. she and the other girls that worked there were badly mistreated and forced to work under harsh condition ...more
Jun 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I'm a fan of Melissa Sweet's artwork, and this book lives up to my expectations. I love, love, love the illustrations--Sweet uses all sorts of sewing images and techniques in the illustrations: the borders (frames) of many images look stitched, lots of pages look like scraps of fabric have been pieced together for the background of the illustrations, and the perspective is well done (one picture that really stood out to me was the scene of the 300 girls sitting at tables--seen from above).

The st
Mar 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
This biography of Clara Lemlich would pair well with the fairy tale adaptation: Disenchanted: The Trials of Cinderella which I read just a couple of weeks ago. Both deal with workers' rights and the abuses prevalent in the garment industry.

Clara was exactly what the title suggests: a brave girl who wanted to improve her own situation as well as the lives of those around her. At the time, garment workers were often young women (even girls, some as young as 6). They worked long hours. They were l
Holly Mueller
Five foot tall Clara Lemlich arrived in America hardly speaking a word of English. Within weeks she was hired, along with thousands of other immigrant girls, to make blouses in a garment factory. She quickly realized that this life was not what she imagined. Long hours, filthy working conditions, and abusive bosses left Clara sore and exhausted. In spite of it all, she would walk to the library after her shift and learn to read. Soon Clara fought back and encouraged the other girls to fight with ...more
Sep 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
I've read two books recently on the Shirtwaist Strikes and the Triangle Fire (the fictionalized account Uprising and the non-fiction Flesh & Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy) so I was excited to find this children's book about the same topic--although it doesn't go into the fire, just the strike which happened before. Instead, it focuses on the bravery of one of the young strikers and teaches the wonderful lesson of fighting for your rights. Could be appropriate in a discussion o ...more
Jul 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book should be required reading for every 1st grader in the USA. The 'Merikan public is startlingly ignorant and just plain stupid when it comes to the history of workers fighting for the common good. People like the 5 foot tall Clara Lemlich, who suffered being arrested and beaten by police, and other hired goons of the rich and powerful. She got six ribs snapped by "brave" policemen.

That's where the flaw in the book comes in. The drawings in the book should have included images of policem
Anna Olswanger
Feb 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
On a November evening in 1909, pint-sized Clara Lemlich spoke out (in Yiddish) from a crowd gathered at Cooper Union on the Lower East Side and started the largest walkout of women workers in U.S. history. This moment climaxes Brave Girl: Clara Lemlich and the Shirtwaist Makers Strike of 1909, Michelle Markel's nonfiction picture book about a gutsy heroine who stood up to the big guys.

Although many picture books have been published about the civil rights era, few have been published about the
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Michelle Markel has written several notable nonfiction picture books, including the The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau, (PEN Picture Book Writing Award) Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909 (Jane Addams Flora Stieglitz Award; Orbis Pictus Honor) and Tyrannosaurus Math (Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choice). Her upcoming title is Balderdash: John Newbery and the Boi ...more

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“[I]n America,
wrongs can be righted,
warriors can wear skirts and blouses,
and the bravest hearts
may beat in girls
only five feet tall.”
More quotes…