The Tri­an­gle Shirt­waist Fac­to­ry Fire

Jes­si­ca Gun­der­son; Phil Miller and Charles Bar­nett III, illus.
  • Review
October 24, 2011

Graph­ic nov­els have become pop­u­lar with old­er chil­dren and adults. When pub­lish­ers tar­get younger read­ers with graph­ic non-fic­tion, the mesh­ing of fact with image results in a for­mat that appeals to today’s visu­al­ly ori­ent­ed young peo­ple. Although invent­ed dia­logue and con­ver­sa­tion box­es are char­ac­ter­is­tic of this genre (“AAAAAGH!” NO!” RRRI­I­IPP!”), the book also con­tains direct quo­ta­tions clear­ly iden­ti­fied in the text by yel­low backgrounds. 

The Tri­an­gle Shirt­waist Fire presents the sto­ry of the trag­ic March 25, 1911 event through the lens of the labor activism that engulfed New York’s gar­ment indus­try at the time. Large­ly miss­ing from this brief but accu­rate account is the spe­cif­ic Jew­ish con­nec­tion to the labor strife. The actions of Clara Lem­lich are appro­pri­ate­ly depict­ed at the union ral­ly which pre­ced­ed the 1909 gar­ment work­ers strike, but the author ignores the specif­i­cal­ly Jew­ish nature of the labor activism and the oath tak­en by the strik­ers. Although this book is not writ­ten from a Jew­ish per­spec­tive, it can serve as a dra­mat­ic ini­tial intro­duc­tion to the event, par­tic­u­lar­ly for reluc­tant read­ers. Ages 9 – 12.

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