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Counting on Grace

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  1,214 ratings  ·  215 reviews
1910. Pownal, Vermont. At 12, Grace and her best friend Arthur must leave school and go to work as a “doffers” on their mothers’ looms in the mill. Grace’s mother is the best worker, fast and powerful, and Grace desperately wants to help her. But she’s left handed and doffing is a right-handed job. Grace’s every mistake costs her mother, and the family. She only feels capa ...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published March 14th 2006 by Wendy Lamb Books
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Average rating 3.87  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,214 ratings  ·  215 reviews

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Nov 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical-fic
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Mar 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
An outstanding book that I picked up in the children's section of my local library. The haunting photo on the book jacket drew my attention, and I just had to read the story.

It turns out that the photograph is rather famous; it was taken by Edward Hines and still resides in a museum. He had taken pictures of immigrants arriving at Ellis Island, and became curious about what happened to them after arriving in the U.S. He "followed" them to the towns they settled in and discovered the issues of ch
Linda Lou
May 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Grace was barely 12 when she started at the mill. Her parents used a birth certificate of an older sister who died before Grace was born. Grace left school because she wanted to go work in the mill. She did not understand the value of education because her parents did not. It was survival. There was one phrase that her teacher, Miss Lindsey, said to her...she was her second best reader. Grace clung to that and in the end that was what saved her. In those times, the company "owned" you. You worke ...more
Susan Wright
Dec 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was the 2007 book for Vermont's Community Reading Program. I didn't realize this when I bought the book but since it takes place in Vermont I can understand why. I hope that the readers there were as enthralled by this book as I was.

Children think that doing chores around the house is tough. Grace started working in a mill when she wasn't yet a teenager doffing the bobbins for her mother as she turned cotton into thread. The mills were filled with children working under conditions tha
Leslie Bassage Butler

Counting on Grace by Elizabeth Winthrop is a historical fiction novel set in Northern New England during a time of child labor issues in mills. This book brought a flood of memories back for me and how I wish that my mother and Grandparents were alive now to fill me in on unwritten details of mill life. My Grandfather Milton Hayes was an engineer who worked in a paper mill in northern New Hampshire. I remember the smell of the mill when we would visit Berlin NH. I remember Grammie sternly comman
Aug 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While browsing at the library, I noticed the cover of an audiobook in the juvenile section. The picture of a young girl looked interesting, so I listened and was not disappointed.

This well-written piece of historical fiction shines the light on the conditions of French-Canadian immigrant families in 1910 Vermont. It is an engaging look at child labor and the struggle to break a cycle of poverty through education.

Grace is spunky, can't sit still, and the second- best reader in the class. When boo
Jul 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Being a doffer in the mill is exciting for 12 year-old Grace, until she realizes she has to miss school to do it... and it is not exactly legal. This book really made me think about child labor laws and the evolution of our country. A great read for any age.
Amya Holland
Oct 27, 2017 rated it did not like it
It was good book overall, Overall showing a kid should factory at such a young age!!!
Oct 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Overall it was a good book , but I didn’t really enjoy reading it as it isn’t my type of genre that I like to read !
Sep 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: easy-read, fiction
Everyone says that nobody can count on Grace. Her feet move too much and her brain is always thinking about something else, but it’s not true, and she’s going to prove them wrong. When 12 year old Grace is kicked out of school her family is pleased. That means one more person to work at the mill in turn will mean more food to eat and maybe even a pair of shoes for her. At first Grace is glad to be a doffer for her mother at the mill. Her memories of playing in the factory during the summers are ...more
Maris Digiovanni
Apr 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book provides children with a view of what it would have been like to grow up in the early 1900s in New England. It was a completely different lifestyle then and work came before one’s education. Now, education is viewed as the most important thing and every child is required to attend school. Work now comes secondary to an education. This book really made me realize how lucky I am to live in the time that I do and have all of the things that I have. I have received a good education and had ...more
Aug 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
As a kid, I loved historical novels and I would easily read a book in a day if it was about "the old days!" Counting on Grace is one of those books -- I couldn't put it down. Grace is a child living in Vermont in the early 1900's. She leaves school at the "old" age of 14 to work in the mills in order to help her family. Money is very tight and every member of the family is needed to make ends meet. The story takes you into the mills and very quickly you realize how hard it was to work in those m ...more
Feb 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Grace is a young girl who starts working in a cotton mill at the age of 12, which is against the law, but does it to help pay the family bills. The story is a historical fiction story about young children working in cotton mills illegally in the early 1900's. A photographer comes and takes pictures and tries to make a story against child labor laws.
I listened to the audio version, and enjoyed the story.
Linda Mchugh
Apr 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book is about a Vermont mill girl based on Hine’s Pownal, Vermont portrait of mill children. I liked the book a lot, but then I do tend to like stories of the mill girls. That this was based on the photo of a real person made it seem more authentic to me. It was the story of a 12 year old girl who grew up being forced to work in the mill and quit school.
Jul 24, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great Book!! Historical fiction at its best, excellent book for tweens - might make them thankful that child labor is no more (at least in USA).
Matt Falcone
Apr 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wow-books
In Counting On Grace by Elizabeth Winthrop, we read about a young girl named Grace. She is 12 years old and goes to work in the mills after a boy (Arthur) in her class is forced into the same kind of job. The story is a historical fiction piece set in 1910 that deals with child labor in Vermont and talks about how boys and girls would often have to work in the mills, breaking child labor laws, and help provide for their family in a time where money was scarce. Although Arthur and Grace don’t see ...more
Stephanie Frye
May 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
I chose to read Counting on Grace by Elizabeth Winthrop for my historical fiction novel study. I was so excited to get the opportunity to read a historical fiction novel as this is not a genre that I would typically reach for when choosing a book. The idea that this novel would somehow connect to education and teaching was exciting for me. Growing up history was not a subject that I enjoyed. However, reading this book peaked my interest in the late 1800s and early 1900s and certainly peaked my i ...more
Tak Taylor
May 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Counting on Grace by Elizabeth Winthrop is a historical narrative about Grace, a 12 year old girl living living in Vermont. Counting on Grace deals with child labor during the industrial revolution in 1910. The book did a good job of blending nonfiction and fictional elements to tell the story of child labor in the early 1900's. Although many of the characters are fictional, the events and the mill elements were very accurate. The description of the mill and what the children had to do in those ...more
Haley Poulain
May 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Counting on Grace had well-written characters and strong sense of family created by the author. As I reader, I was enchanted the most by Grace’s French family. I too have a French background. So, I immediately connected with the character of Grace in that aspect.

I also felt connected to Miss Lesley, the teacher. She fought for her students throughout the entirety of the novel. I feel like it do this everyday in my profession. I constantly fight for justice for my students in all aspects of their
The year is 1910, and 12 year old Grace lives in a cramped Vermont company house with her family.  She enjoys attending the local school, where she and her friend Arthur are top students.  Now her studies (and her freedom) are threatened when both she and Arthur are told they must work at the mill.

In this work of historical fiction geared for middle school readers, Elizabeth Winthrop does an excellent job relating a picture of New England mill life at the turn of the 20th century.  Coupled with
Jennifer Gregory
May 18, 2018 rated it liked it
This book was an easy read, but really made me think. I have 3 kids of my own, my oldest just got his drivers permit yet I worry about letting him even walk to the gas station two blocks away. It baffles me to think about him having to get a job to help support the family. I can't imagine having to make my kids quit school and get a dangerous job just to help insure the family's survival. Another thing that really hit me was when they tied their grandpa to the bed to keep him from wondering off. ...more
Kelly A. Kazmierski
Jun 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
I have a hard time finding books both my son a lnd I enjoy reading together. I picked this book up at the Boott Cotton Mill Museum in Lowell, MA when we visited recently, and we’ve been reading this at bedtime. It’s the story of 12 year old Grace, whose family works in a cotton mill in VT. I found the stories of her family and friends in the mill very engaging and enjoyed reading it to my son. It was an interesting look at how the industrial revolutionary impacted families and children specifica ...more
Chandler Brons
Apr 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Read this book for a class and loved it! It gives you some insight of what it might have been like for children living in the early 1900's. It was very easy to write a unit plan over and found so many great tools online. It is a concept that children might have a hard time grasping, but by the end of the book, they will sympathize with Grace.
It is a little slow and repetitive at times, and that is why I gave it only four stars.
Gregory Strong
Mar 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think this is a fine young adult book, among the best I have read. Elizabeth Winthrop takes an actual vignette from history -- a young girl photographed in 1910 by Lewis Hine as she stands at one of the spinning machines in a factory in Vermont -- and weaves a tight lovely fabric of hope, despair, love, hate, courage, fear, justice, injustice. Against hard reality, this is story-telling to stir the heart to a truer, better humanity.
Sep 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Highly recommend this book for middle grade students all the way up to adults. Tells in excruciating detail the hardships of textile workers in the early 1900s and how child labor laws were largely ignored especially in rural communities. The extra pay for children was necessary for survival of these families who lived in company towns. True tragedies.

Well written with believable characters.
Kayla C
Mar 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book in school as a young girl growing up in New England. This book has been incredibly important as early literature for myself personally and inspired an interest in the Industrial age, which has lasted into my college career. It's a book that I still have on my shelf and intend to keep on my bookshelf for years to come.
May 11, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Child labor in New England in the 1900's, working in the mills along the rivers turning cotton into thread to be woven in other mills. Grace leaves school at age 12 to work in the local mill with the rest of her family. She originally thought it would be fun to be out of school but then found she had become a slave in a system that was very hard to escape from.
Jun 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. I’ve taught 8th graders twice about photographer Lewis Hine when studying the industrial revolution. I thought it was very clever for the author to include him as a character in the book. But that’s not just a gimmick. He feels real, and the story itself is original with complex characters.
Aug 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Audio. Loved every minute of this YA historical fiction. The only thing that would have improved this book would have been reading it at age 10. I thoroughly enjoyed the author interview at the end of the book. I hope there is a sequel.
Jul 04, 2017 rated it liked it
story about child labor
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USA Geography Cha...: Counting on Grace by Elizabeth Winthrop 1 1 Dec 29, 2014 09:49PM  
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ELIZABETH WINTHROP is the author of over sixty works of fiction for all ages.

Her most recent picture book, LUCY AND HENRY ARE TWINS, a picture book for toddlers with illustrations by Jane Massey, was published by Two Lions in 2015. Publishers Weekly called MAIA AND THE MONSTER BABY, published by Holiday House, a story of "two winning female characters with a message about friendship and girl power

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