Rooftop is the story of two friends: Minnie, a Jew born of European immigrant parents, and Tessa, a Catholic from an Italian immigrant family. Both girls are forced to work at the sewing factory under terrible and dangerous conditions from an early age in order to help support their families. Minnie could never let her father know about Tessa as he would never approve. Although fictionalized, this tale is based on the real life accounts of those who survived the infamous and deadly Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire on March 25, 1911 in New York City. Interwoven throughout is the Jewish/Catholic friendship dynamic that comes to a tidy closure when Tessa saves Minnies life causing Minnie’s father to accept the friendship by default. Presented in graphic novel form, the dark intensity of the illustrations engages the reader. The darkened panels and marvelously meticulous artwork depict the poor working conditions and capture the seriousness of the predicament the girls have found themselves in. This is one story in the History’s Kid Heroes series. In the back of the book is more information about the fire and additional recommended book resources to explore. For ages 9 – 11.
Drora Arussy, Ed.D., is an educational consultant who specializes in integrating Jewish and secular studies, the arts into education, and creative teaching for excellence in Jewish education. She is the mother to four school-age children and has taught from pre-school through adult. Drora is an adjunct professor of Hebrew language at Drew University.