The Bobbin Girl

The Bobbin Girl

5.0 1
by Emily Arnold McCully
     
 

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Rebecca Putney is a bobbin girl who helps support her struggling family by working all day in a hot, noisy cotton mill. Working conditions at the mill are poor, and there is talk of lowering the workers' wages. Rebecca's friend Judith wants to protest the pay cut—but troublemakers at the mill are dismissed. Does Rebecca have the courage to join the protest?  See more details below

Overview

Rebecca Putney is a bobbin girl who helps support her struggling family by working all day in a hot, noisy cotton mill. Working conditions at the mill are poor, and there is talk of lowering the workers' wages. Rebecca's friend Judith wants to protest the pay cut—but troublemakers at the mill are dismissed. Does Rebecca have the courage to join the protest?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Caldecott Medalist McCully (Mirette on the High Wire) spins an engrossing, fact-based tale with feminism and fair labor practices at its heart. Ten-year-old Rebecca supplements her family's meager income by toiling as a "bobbin girl" in 1830s New England. She is one of the thousands of girls and women who endure 131/2-hour days in the stuffy textile mills of Lowell, Mass., the City of Spindles. Rebecca sees first-hand the courage of her co-workers, who all share a dream of building a better life with the money they earn. She also observes the illnesses, injuries and anxiety caused by the harsh conditions and callous mill owners. When a decrease in wages is announced, the mill girls rally to stage a "turn out" (strike) and protest their predicament. McCully deftly weaves feminist themes into her spirited text, and her meaty author's note places her story in context. Her characters speak of self-reliance and education; they read and attend lectures whenever possible. The courage and ambition these role models inspire in Rebecca are palpable. Rough-edged watercolors, frequently awash in gray light, convey the often oppressive mood of an industrial town of the time. The shawled and bonneted women and an abundance of other period details add further historical depth. Ages 6-9. (May)
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
Caldecott Medal winner McCully has produced another outstanding book. She recounts the exploitation of women and girls who worked in the mills of Lowell, Massachusetts. In particular, we meet 10-year-old Rebecca, a bobbin girl, and learn of the long hours and abuse she and her female coworkers faced. The story tells of those who would not be slaves to the factory and its management. For the first time, women spoke out against their working conditions and began the struggle to improve their condition. Rebecca and her friend Judith were among those who would not be silent. This is a fictional account based on real incidents and real people, beautifully illustrated in watercolor and pastel.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4This tale of child labor, early efforts to organize against unfair employers, and human courage is based on the true story of Harriet Hanson Robinson, whose mother ran a mill boardinghouse in 19th-century Lowell, MA. It tells of Rebecca Putney, a 10-year-old bobbin girl who follows the lead of an older firebrand and walks out of the textile mill in protest of a pay cut. The house provides the context to move the plot because it's there that the women talk about their goals and conditions. McCully's straightforward narrative is told in the third person with substantial dialogue. The artwork, realistic watercolors, supports the narrative but does little to move the story forward. Though crowd scenes offer opportunities for drama, the composition is somewhat static. Not all of the human figures are well-rendered. Some spreads are compelling, as in the after-dinner hours when the women sit around the fire, one wearily soaking her feet. Another striking scene shows one woman's collapse in the hazy spinning room. Despite Rebecca's central position in the narrative, she is primarily an observer and reporter and never really comes to life. Though this entry offers a valuable slice of history and will be useful for curriculum support, it lacks vitality of its own.Carolyn Noah, Central Mass. Regional Library System, Worcester, MA
Carolyn Phelan
nger for reading aloud. When her mother's income from the boardinghouse no longer covers their expenses, 10-year-old Rebecca helps out by working as a bobbin girl at the local textile mill. The young women who board with Mrs. Putney endure the mill's bad air, loud machinery, high injury rate, and low wages in the hope of improving their lot, but when the mill owners threaten to lower their wages, the mill workers stage a "turnout," refusing to work. Although the protest fails, young Rebecca is proud of doing the right thing and vows to carry on the struggle. A Lowell, Massachusetts, textile mill in the 1830s may be an unlikely setting for a picture book, even one for older readers, but McCully weaves historical facts and fictional characters into an intriguing story. The author's note details the background, incidents, and people who inspired the book. Beautifully composed watercolor paintings give a vivid impression of America in the 1830s and bring the period to life. A useful book for history units.
Kirkus Reviews
Rebecca Putney, "Bobbin Girl," gazes out from the cover of this exceptional work and draws readers into the fascinating lives of the young women who were part of the unique social and industrial milieu of the mills in 19th-century Lowell, Massachusetts.

Rebecca, ten, works at the mill to help her mother's finances. The excitement of employment—of young, independent women living, working, and learning together—is effectively contrasted with the need, ultimately, to strike. Judith, an older girl whom Rebecca admires, inspires the work stoppage; Rebecca decides for herself whether she, too, will struggle for better working conditions. Exquisite watercolors are perfectly integrated into the text, extending it and amplifying it. Many marvelous spreads—workers filing into the imposing factory, girls gathered in a boardinghouse parlor, an outdoor rally, and, especially, a tumble of girls rushing down stairs and out of the factory into the light—beckon readers into another era. A careful author's note offers background; this is a perfect classroom companion to Katherine Paterson's Lyddie (1991). Some will say McCully (The Pirate Queen, 1995, etc.) has surpassed herself.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780803718272
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
05/28/1996
Pages:
32
Sales rank:
605,083
Product dimensions:
8.75(w) x 10.80(h) x 0.40(d)
Lexile:
600L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Emily Arnold McCully was born in Galesburg, Illinois, and grew up "a daredevil child," always climbing trees or buildings. She made it to college intact, however, and received her B.A. from Brown University and an M.A. in art history from Columbia University.

Emily McCully's artwork has been included in the International Biennale at Bratislava, and she has won a Christopher Award for Picnic, one of the many picture books that she has both written and illustrated.

Writing also for adults, Ms. McCully has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and New York State Council on the Arts. Her book, A Craving was nominated for an American Book Award.

The idea for Mirette on the High Wire began as a biography of real-life daredevil Blondin. But the author changed her mind to accomodate the tree-climbing child and risk-taking adult she was and is.

copyright © 2000 by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.
Emily Arnold McCully was born in Galesburg, Illinois, and grew up "a daredevil child," always climbing trees or buildings. She made it to college intact, however, and received her B.A. from Brown University and an M.A. in art history from Columbia University.

Emily McCully's artwork has been included in the International Biennale at Bratislava, and she has won a Christopher Award for Picnic, one of the many picture books that she has both written and illustrated.

Writing also for adults, Ms. McCully has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and New York State Council on the Arts. Her book, A Craving was nominated for an American Book Award.

The idea for Mirette on the High Wire began as a biography of real-life daredevil Blondin. But the author changed her mind to accomodate the tree-climbing child and risk-taking adult she was and is.

copyright © 2000 by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.

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The Bobbin Girl 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago