Rosie in New York City: Gotcha!

Rosie in New York City: Gotcha!

by Carol Matas
     
 

At age eleven, Rosie Lepidus's main concerns are winning ring-a-levio, going to school, and staying out of trouble. But when Mama falls ill with pneumonia and Papa throws all the family's savings into the nickelodeon business, the burden of caring for her family falls on Rosie's shoulders.

Tall for her age, Rosie is able to pass for sixteen and take Mama's

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Overview

At age eleven, Rosie Lepidus's main concerns are winning ring-a-levio, going to school, and staying out of trouble. But when Mama falls ill with pneumonia and Papa throws all the family's savings into the nickelodeon business, the burden of caring for her family falls on Rosie's shoulders.

Tall for her age, Rosie is able to pass for sixteen and take Mama's place sewing sleeves at a shirtwaist factory. Her family needs the money. But working conditions are horrible and the factory boss is incredibly strict. The girls are fined for nearly everything -- even talking or humming! Within days of starting work, Rosie hears the buzz about a huge strike of twenty thousand shirtwaist workers. It's the strike that Mama's been working toward for ages: a huge push for change in the workplace. Rosie wants to join in, but as the streets become more dangerous, Papa asks his daughter to return to school. And Rosie must choose: follow Papa's orders...or fight with everything she's got.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Matas's (The War Within: A Novel of the Civil War) slim story launches a trilogy projected to span 1909 and 1910 as its protagonists travel from New York to Chicago to Los Angeles. As this installment opens, 11-year-old Rosie Lepidus plays on the streets of Lower Manhattan, where her family has lived since emigrating from Odessa six years earlier. But her carefree life comes to an abrupt halt when her father, an aspiring actor, uses his savings to invest in a nickelodeon venture and her mother, a factory worker and champion of women's suffrage and union causes, falls ill. Rosie quits school and-passing for 16-takes her mother's place behind a sewing machine at a shirtwaist factory. Working conditions are oppressive, and the heartless boss fines the workers for singing and stretching and also sets the clock ahead to shorten the lunch break. Angered, Rosie joins her fellow workers supporting a general strike, takes her place on the picket line and is arrested after standing up to a "hired gorilla" who is protecting the scabs. Matas's setting has a strong historical basis, yet her narrative stretches credibility as preadolescent Rosie becomes the mouthpiece of the ultimately victorious local union movement. The clich ed dialogue and overly tidy resolution may discourage readers from following Rosie on her journey westward. Ages 9-12. (June) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Rosie is a young girl living in New York City during the early 1900s. Her life is filled with things that most children her age enjoy: school, playing in the street with her friends, and eating special dinners with her dad. All this changes when her mother becomes very sick, which prevents her from working and bringing in needed income. Rosie works in her mother's place to provide money to feed her parents and brothers. However, the work conditions are awful, and when the ladies at the factory decide to strike, Rosie joins the fight! Her once-carefree life suddenly becomes filled with responsibility and obligation. Rosie must decide what she believes is the right thing to do in this situation. The novel takes the reader through the phases of a young girl's life who lived with the social problems of the early 20th century, a time when industrialization and women's rights issues were prominent. Matas uses easy-to-understand language, although the story includes foreign words and characters from a variety of ethnicities. Friendship, equality, and family are just a few of the major themes that help to draw the reader into the novel. 2003, Aladdin Paperbacks, Ages 9 to 12.
—Christine Lindemann
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-In this first book in a trilogy, Rosie's father invests in the nickelodeon business and her mother becomes ill, so the 11-year-old fills in at a shirtwaist factory in order to support the family. She quickly-perhaps too quickly-makes the transition from carefree schoolgirl to oppressed factory worker, and participates in the 1909-1910 strike. In the end, Papa moves the family to Chicago, and Rosie, while sad to leave her friends, looks forward to new adventures. The story is told from the child's perspective, and Matas provides good background on the working conditions and hardships faced by the strikers, including the girl's arrest and appearance in court. Weaknesses in the novel include a clairvoyant neighbor who does not help to move the story along and asides about religion; some Yiddish words are not defined. Still, readers will enjoy this appealing, spirited protagonist, and will be watching for the second installment to see how she adjusts to her new life.-Sharon R. Pearce, Chippewa Elementary School, Bensenville, IL Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780689857140
Publisher:
Aladdin
Publication date:
06/01/2003
Edition description:
Original
Pages:
128
Product dimensions:
0.31(w) x 5.00(h) x 8.00(d)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

At age eleven, Rosie Lepidus's main concerns are winning ring-a-levio, going to school, and staying out of trouble. But when Mama falls ill with pneumonia and Papa throws all the family's savings into the nickelodeon business, the burden of caring for her family falls on Rosie's shoulders.


Tall for her age, Rosie is able to pass for sixteen and take Mama's place sewing sleeves at a shirtwaist factory. Her family needs the money. But working conditions are horrible and the factory boss is incredibly strict. The girls are fined for nearly everything -- even talking or humming! Within days of starting work, Rosie hears the buzz about a huge strike of twenty thousand shirtwaist workers. It's the strike that Mama's been working toward for ages: a huge push for change in the workplace. Rosie wants to join in, but as the streets become more dangerous, Papa asks his daughter to return to school. And Rosie must choose: follow Papa's orders...or fight with everything she's got.

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