Mother Jones: Labor Leader
Connie Colwell Miller
Illustrated by Steve Erwin and Charles Barnett III
Non-Fiction Picture Book (Series)
Ages 8 to 10
Capstone Press, 2007, 0-7368-3833-3
Mary was born in Ireland and her family was severely affected by the failure of the potato crop in the 1840’s. So much so in fact that it was decided that the family would move to Canada where there were more opportunities for work. Mary grew up to become a teacher and then she moved south to the state of Tennessee where she married and had children. Mary’s family was very poor and she knew what it was like to have to do without. She also knew what it was like to be a member of the working class, a class which had very little power to change its circumstances for the better.
When Mary’s husband and children died during a yellow fever epidemic she moved once more looking for a new life. As she lived and worked in Chicago she continued to see how ill used the poor working class people were. At every turn she saw how they suffered while the rich flourished.
Finally in the 1890’s Mary began to become active in the labor movement. Giving speeches she fought for the unions and became the “mother” of working people who did not have decent working conditions, who were not paid enough, and who had no one to speak for them. She participated in strikes and was arrested several times and through her hard work and her refusal to give up Mary made a difference in the lives of hundreds of men, women, and children all over the United States.
This excellent picture book will help children to understand that there once was a time when many of America’s workers lived and worked under appalling conditions. Mother Jones spoke for these people, knowing all too well what they were suffering at the hands of their employers.
An inspirational story combined with a graphic rich format makes this a compelling work of non-fiction.
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