Albert Marrin's Flesh & Blood so Cheap tells the story of that tragedy to young audiences. The book is not however strictly a children's book, and Marrin does not talk down to his audience.
Several things made this a winner for me. First is the structure of the book. Marrin starts with a discussion of immigration and life in New York City at the turn of the last century. From there, he turns to the garment industry specifically, explaining the rise of sweatshops and the labor movement. Then Flesh & Blood focuses on the details of the Triangle Shirt fire, ending with far-reaching effects of the event. Thus readers get a full sense of the complex circumstances that led up to the fire and then understand the ways in which it still affects us today.
Marrin writes in an engaging style, defining words and concepts along the way. In addition, just about every page of the book is illustrated with historical photos, profiles of the people involved, and maps, making the story personal and accessible to readers of all ages.
|In public domain|
Readers may be surprised by the wide range of topics covered in Flesh & Blood so Cheap. Besides some of the obvious themes of labor laws, unions, and immigration, the fire and the people involved have connections to organized crime, Tammany Hall, social class divisions, modern labor conditions in Asia, and the decline of American-made clothing,
Thanks to its bibliography and list of Internet resources, the book is highly recommended for teachers, homeschoolers, and anyone wanting to know about the horrible fire in particular and the labor movement in general. I'm not surprised that Albert Marrin's Flesh & Blood so Cheap is a National Book Award Finalist; it should be used as a model for nonfiction for young readers.
This post will be linked to Kid Konnection, hosted by Julie at Booking Mama.
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Random House/ Alfred A. Knopf / Borzio Books, 2011
Source: Review (see review policy)
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