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

Balzer and Bray  2013


This is a thoroughly delightful historical picture book, beautifully told and filled with wonderful art that perfectly enhances the text.

Brave, young, energetic Clara Lemlich, a young immigrant sweatshop worker, was one of the driving forces behind the shirtwaist makers’ strike of 1909. At first her efforts were discounted because she was a woman, but she proved that determination and grit do not depend on gender. Because of Clara’s actions, the conditions of the sweatshop workers improved and many young women were both inspired and empowered to help make the workplace a safer and healthier environment for all.

Integral to Sweet’s artwork are images of fabric and stitchery, intertwining the art with the story of young women who spent endless hours at sewing machines.

A thorough afterword about the garment industry and an excellently chosen bibliography are included.

The book is highly recommended for ages 4-8 but may be useful, as well, for older children studying the history of the time.


An Interview with Michelle Markel by Barbara Bietz

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