Kid Blink Beats the World

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"It was all for a penny.

They left their cramped and crowded tenement apartments for a penny.

They scurried beside the pushcart peddlers for a penny.

They dodged street trolleys and horse drawn wagons for a penny.

And in the summer of 1899, Kid Blink, Race Track Higgins, Tiny Tim, Crutch Morris, and Crazy ...

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Overview

"It was all for a penny.

They left their cramped and crowded tenement apartments for a penny.

They scurried beside the pushcart peddlers for a penny.

They dodged street trolleys and horse drawn wagons for a penny.

And in the summer of 1899, Kid Blink, Race Track Higgins, Tiny Tim, Crutch Morris, and Crazy Arborn battled the world for a penny."

The story of the newsboys (and girls) who took on the world's most powerful press barons - and won.

In the summer of 1899, the hundreds of newsboys who sold Randolph Hearst's Journal and Pulitzer's World on the streets of New York and surrounding cities went on strike. The issue was a penny-the extra penny that the press owners wanted to charge the newsboys to buy the papers. To the press owners it didn't seem like much, but to the newsboys it was a living, and they fought. Led by kids with colorful names like Kid Blink, Race Track Higgins, Tiny Tim, and Crutch Morris, they refused to sell the papers, staged rallies-and finally brought the newspapers to the negotiating table.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Booklist Starred Review

Gr. 2-5. Brown has found a winning topic to write about—literally. This grabber of a picture book for older children details the events in the summer of 1899, during which hundreds of young news vendors stood up to two of the most powerful men in the U.S.—William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer. The financial circumstance that forced the kids to strike—the extra penny that the newspaper owners wanted to charge the vendors to buy their papers—is clearly explained, but Brown also personalizes the story very well. He does have some vividly named "newsies," to work with, including Kid Blink, Crazy Airborn, and Tiny Tim, who, when asked how long the strikers could hold out, answers, "Ferever." Like all David-versus-Goliath stories, this has a natural rooting factor, though the compromise ending may slow the cheering. The loose-lined, sepia-tone ink-and-wash artwork is less successful than the go-go text at capturing the fervor of the strike... The rousing cover, however, with the boys on the march, will grab kids, and the story inside brings history home to readers the same age as those who lived it.

Publishers Weekly

Most of Brown's (Odd Boy Out, reviewed above) previous biographies have celebrated famous men and women. Here, the hero is a child. The son of poor immigrants, Kid Blink (so nicknamed, according to an endnote, for a blind eye) sells newspapers on New York City's streets. In the summer of 1899, when Mr. Pulitzer and Mr. Hearst raise the wholesale price for 10 copies of their papers (The World and The Journal) from five to six cents, Kid Blink and his fellow "newsies" decide to strike: "I'm trying to figure how ten cents on a hundred papers can mean more to a millionaire than it does to newsboys, an' I can't see it," Kid Blink says. "If they can't spare it, how can we?" The boy's public speeches unite hundreds of newsboys. Withstanding threats of violence and jail sentences, they stay true to their own code of chivalry ("A feller don't soak a lady," the hero tells newsies who threaten to steal papers from a woman's newsstand). In Brown's spreads and spot illustrations, draft horses, knickerbockers and bowler hats convey the flavor of life in the city more than 100 years ago. Brown's dreamy sepia washes soften scenes in which thugs hired by the newspaper magnates chase boys down alleys and policemen take children to jail. Although younger listeners may not fully understand the nature of the compromise that stopped the strike, they will be thrilled by the idea of a political movement which crowns an urban boy underdog as its leader, and by the sympathetic adults who shower Kid Blink and his friends with coins. Ages 5-9.

School Library Journal

Grade 3-6–"It was all for a penny…in the summer of 1899, Kid Blink, Race Track Higgins, Tiny Tim, Crutch Morris, and Crazy Arborn battled the world for a penny." That "world" was Joseph Pulitzer's The World newspaper (along with Randolph Hearst's The Journal), and that penny was a very important penny, indeed. Kids today may not understand the big deal, but when presented with this lively account of the facts of life in the day when "newsies" sold papers on street corners and 15 cents paid for dinner, they may have a better grasp of the elements of economics, the power of a penny, and the strength of organized labor. Subdued washes of sepia, lavender, and gray temper this telling of the sometimes-violent lengths to which hundreds of working children went to make themselves heard above the likes of Pulitzer and Hearst, and Brown's pictures have a sketched-quick quality that at once conveys the movement and the momentum of this slice of our history. An author's note and brief bibliography give sources and qualifiers. Add this catalyst for conversation about labor laws and workers' rights to Kathleen Krull's Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez (Harcourt, 2003), Holly Littlefield's Fire at the Triangle Factory (Sagebrush, 1996), and (for older audiences) Russell Freedman's seminal piece, Kids at Work: Lewis Hine and the Crusade Against Child Labor (Clarion, 1994).

Publishers Weekly
Most of Brown's (Odd Boy Out, reviewed above) previous biographies have celebrated famous men and women. Here, the hero is a child. The son of poor immigrants, Kid Blink (so nicknamed, according to an endnote, for a blind eye) sells newspapers on New York City's streets. In the summer of 1899, when Mr. Pulitzer and Mr. Hearst raise the wholesale price for 10 copies of their papers (The World and The Journal) from five to six cents, Kid Blink and his fellow "newsies" decide to strike: "I'm trying to figure how ten cents on a hundred papers can mean more to a millionaire than it does to newsboys, an' I can't see it," Kid Blink says. "If they can't spare it, how can we?" The boy's public speeches unite hundreds of newsboys. Withstanding threats of violence and jail sentences, they stay true to their own code of chivalry ("A feller don't soak a lady," the hero tells newsies who threaten to steal papers from a woman's newsstand). In Brown's spreads and spot illustrations, draft horses, knickerbockers and bowler hats convey the flavor of life in the city more than 100 years ago. Brown's dreamy sepia washes soften scenes in which thugs hired by the newspaper magnates chase boys down alleys and policemen take children to jail. Although younger listeners may not fully understand the nature of the compromise that stopped the strike, they will be thrilled by the idea of a political movement which crowns an urban boy underdog as its leader, and by the sympathetic adults who shower Kid Blink and his friends with coins. Ages 5-9. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
The newspaper strike of 1899 may not have originated the saying "A penny saved is a penny earned," but the focus of this nonfiction picture book shows the power of a penny and children alike. A wonderfully-written and illustrated look at working children who challenged the mighty newspaper giants, The World and The Journal, during a time when a mere penny meant the difference between eating or not. Boys and girls, who were called "newsies," boycotted the sales of these newspapers when the owners wanted to charge them an extra penny to buy the papers they were selling. Because of their fierce determination and resolve, the newspaper giants agreed to a compromise that benefited everyone involved. The illustrations mirror the times with subdued water colors that complement and enrich the storyline. Readers of all ages will enjoy learning about a little known bit of 19th century history. Educators may also find this a valuable reference for teaching social studies in an engaging and entertaining format. 2004, Roaring Book Press, Ages 5 to 9.
—Mary Forbes
Kirkus Reviews
"It was all for a penny." When Mr. Pulitzer and Mr. Hearst decided to make New York City newsies pay a penny more for each stack of papers to sell, Kid Blink, Race Track Higgins, Crutch Morris, and others led a strike; they would stop sales until the price was rolled back. Brown's cartoon illustrations are a perfect complement to the text, the signature hollow-eyed, potato-headed characters dramatic in their defiance of the owners of The World and The Journal. Readers and listeners will appreciate the lively writing and the humorous, dramatic illustrations. Students might enjoy tracking down sources listed in the bibliography, including newspaper accounts from 1899 and Jacob Riis's How the Other Half Lives. Unfortunately, Brown's narrative makes a hero out of Kid Blink without considering, in the text or author's note, accusations that Kid Blink later betrayed the movement. Susan Campbell Bartoletti's Kids On Strike (2003) and The Journal of Finn Reardon: A Newsie (2003) are excellent resources for readers who want to read more about the newsies. (Picture book/nonfiction. 5-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781596430037
  • Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
  • Publication date: 9/14/2004
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.02 (w) x 9.88 (h) x 0.33 (d)

Meet the Author

Don Brown's previous books include Mack Made Movies and Across a Dark and Wild Sea. He lives on Long Island, New York.

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