The Worst of Times: A Story of the Great Depression


Bring history to life with compelling stories,

sweeping scope, and a welcoming sense of diversity

  • Historical fiction helps students connect to their middle school


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Bring history to life with compelling stories,

sweeping scope, and a welcoming sense of diversity

  • Historical fiction helps students connect to their middle school

    social studies classes

  • Reading skill instruction and cross-curricular connections improve

    comprehension of historical fiction

  • Strong multicultural flavor reflects the rich tapestry of our shared

    American heritages

Jamestown's American Portraits, a saga of American families and friends,

traces the history of America from the founding of Jamestown to the Civil

Rights Movement. This is a unique, enriching series designed to teach

reading strategies appropriate for historical novels used in middle school

reading, language arts, or social studies classes.

  • Reading Level 5-8
  • Interest Level 6-8

In the early 1930s in Chicago, twelve-year-old Petey's family faces poverty and internal strife after his father loses his job, while, at the same time, his wealthy, older cousin takes on the dangerous work of a union organizer.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Petey never paid much attention to news of the Great Depression, but that changes when he meet a kid he used to know—a kid who used to live a life pretty much like Petey's but who now lives hand to mouth in a shantytown outside of town. Could the same thing happen to Petey? Petey's father assures him that it won't; although things might get a little tight, Dad's been a loyal employee and his job is secure. But is it? Uncle Mort built his factory with sweat and tears and he has always been a good employer. His workers would never strike. Or would they? And Cousin Steve...will he and others like him succeed in their mission to unionize the workers? Uncle Mort and Dad articulate a strong case for capitalism and property rights; Cousin Steve argues for worker's rights, but his arguments, as presented, are not quite as compelling. The epilogue briefly discusses the causes of the Great Depression, new legislation (primarily the Wagner Act and Social Security) and the growing belief "that government had a responsibility to help people in trouble, to do certain kinds of jobs that private enterprise won't or can't do, and to keep the economy running on an even keel." According to the publisher, this book is aligned to state standards of learning. A teacher guide is available. 2004 (orig. 2000), School Specialty Children's Publishing/Waterbird Books, Ages 9 to 12.
—Anita Barnes Lowen
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-The obviously educational intent overtakes the story in both of these books. In the first title, Petey's formerly comfortable family struggles through the Great Depression in the Chicago area while his cousin, the son of a wealthy factory owner, joins the union movement. The plot seems designed to set up a situation in which the struggle of the workers for rights clashes with free-enterprise beliefs that the boss makes the decisions. Collier tugs at readers' heartstrings with an ominous and abrupt ending, but amid a wealth of detail and political discussion, the humanity of the characters is lost, and with it the capacity of readers to care. In Sweet America, Kroll shows 14-year-old Tonio's gradual transformation into Tony, a hardworking immigrant striving to survive and succeed in New York City at the end of the 19th century. Predictable difficulties with gangs, overcrowded tenements, layoffs, and the generation gap almost, but not quite, overcome lively Tonio's charm. The talents of both of these writers are wasted in these lackluster offerings.-Carol A. Edwards, Sonoma County Library, Santa Rosa, CA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780756930691
  • Publisher: Perfection Learning Corporation
  • Publication date: 4/28/2004
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 142
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.60 (d)

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Table of Contents

When the Depression strikes America, throwing millions out of work, Petey Williamson's family seems safe. Hadn't the boss promised Petey's father that he'd always have a job? But during the Depression, promises cannot always be kept, and Petey finds his family sliding rapidly into poverty. And when Petey's much-admired cousin Steve starts working as a union organizer in the battle to improve conditions for workers, poverty turns into tragedy.

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