Bread and Roses, Too

Bread and Roses, Too

by Katherine Paterson


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780547076515
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 08/12/2008
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 209,556
Product dimensions: 5.12(w) x 7.62(h) x 0.80(d)
Lexile: 810L (what's this?)
Age Range: 9 - 12 Years

About the Author

Katherine Paterson’s international fame rests not only on her widely acclaimed novels but also on her efforts to promote literacy in the United States and abroad. A two-time winner of the Newbery Medal (Bridge to Terabithia and Jacob Have I Loved) and the National Book Award (The Great Gilly Hopkins and The Master Puppeteer), she has received many accolades for her body of work, including the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal, the Hans Christian Andersen Medal, the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, and the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, given by her home state of Vermont. She was also named a Living Legend by the Library of Congress. She served as the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature in 2010-2011.
Ms. Paterson is vice president of the National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance (, which is a not-for-profit education and advocacy organization. The NCBLA’s innovative projects actively promote literacy, literature, libraries, and the arts.  She is both an Alida Cutts Lifetime Member of the United States Board on Books for Young People ( and a lifetime member of the International Board on Books for Young People (
She and her husband, John, live in Montpelier, Vermont. They have four children and seven grandchildren. For more information, visit

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One Shoe Girl

The tenements loomed toward the sky on either side of the alley like glowering giants, but they’d keep the wind off. There was plenty of trash in the narrow space between them. It stank to high heaven, but, then, so did he. He began to burrow into the heap like a rat. A number of rodents squawked and scrambled away. Hell’s bells! He hoped they wouldn’t bite him while he was asleep. Rat bites hurt like fury.
For a moment he stopped digging, but the freezing air drove him farther in.
He tried to warm himself by cursing his pa. The words inside his head were hot as flaming hades, but they didn’t fool his hands and feet, which ached from the cold.
He’d heard of people freezing to death in their sleep. It happened to drunks all the time. He sometimes even wished it would happen to his pa, although he knew it was wicked to wish your own pa dead. But how could Jake be expected to care whether the brute lived or died? The man did nothing but beat him. Dead, he wouldn’t beat me or steal all my pay for drink—and then beat me for not earning more. He was keeping himself agitated, if not warm, with hateful thoughts of the old man when he heard light footsteps close by. He willed himself motionless.
It was a small person from the sound, and coming right for his pile. You can’t have my pile. This one’s mine. I already claimed it. I chased the rats for it. I made my nest in it. .
. . He began to growl.
“Who’s there?” It was the frightened voice of a child—a girl, if he wasn’t mistaken.
“What do you want?” He stuck his head out of the pile.
The girl jumped back with a little shriek. Stupid little mouse.
“Who are you?” she asked, her voice shaking.
“It’s my pile. Go away.” “I don’t want your pile. Really, I don’t.” She was shaking so hard, her whole body was quivering. “I—I just need to look in it—to find something.” “In here?” “I think so. I’m not sure.” He was interested in spite of himself.
“What did you lose?” “My—my shoes,” she said. “How could you lose your shoes?” “I guess I sort of hid them.” “You what?” “I know,” she said. He could tell she was about to bawl. “It was stupid. I really need new ones. But Mamma said Anna had to stand up all day on the line and she needed shoes worse than me. I thought if I lost mine . . . It was stupid, I know.” She began to cry in earnest. “Okay, okay, which pile?” He stood up, old bottles, cans, and papers cascading from his shoulders. She put her left foot on top of her right, to keep at least one stockinged foot from touching the frozen ground. “You smell awful,” she said.
“Shut up. You want help or not?” “Please,” she said. “I’m sorry.” They dug about in the dark. At length, Jake found the first shoe, and then the girl found the other. She nodded gratefully, slipped them on her feet, and bent over to tie what was left of the laces.
“You didn’t lose them so good.” “No. I guess I knew all along I’d have to find them.” She gave a little sigh. “But thank you.” She was very polite. He figured she went to school even in shoes that were more holes than leather.“ You can’t sleep in a garbage heap,” she said.
“And why not?” “You’ll freeze to death is why.” Somehow with her shoes found, she didn’t seem like a scared mouse after all.
“I done it before. Besides, where else am I gonna go?” “You might—you can sleep in our kitchen.” She blurted the words out, and then put her hand quickly to her mouth.
“Your folks might notice,” he said.
“Besides I stink. You said so.” “We all stink.” She grabbed his arm.
“Come on before I change my mind.” They went in the alley door of one of the buildings and climbed to the third floor. “Shh,” she said before she opened the door. “They’re all asleep.” She led him between the beds in the first room and then into the kitchen. There was no fire in the stove, but the room was warmer than a trash pile.
“You can lie down here,” she said. “We don’t have an extra bed— not even a quilt. I’m sorry.” “I’ll be okay,” he said. He could hardly make out her features in the dark room, but he could tell that she was smaller than he and very thin, with hair that hung to her shoulders.
“I’ll be up before your pa wakes,” he said.
“He’s dead. Nobody will throw you out.” Still, the first stirring in the back room woke him the next morning. A kid was crying out and a woman’s voice was trying to shush it, though Jake reckoned it to be a hunger cry that could not be hushed with words.
He got silently to his feet. There was a box on the table. He opened it too find a half loaf of bread.
He tore off a chunk, telling himself they’d never miss it. Then he stole back through the front room, where someone was snoring like thunder, and out the door and down the stairs and on down the hill to the mill and to work. No danger of freeziiiiing there. He never stopped moving. Why, even on these frigid winter mornings, he was sweating like a pig by ten o’clock.
Later he remembered that he hadn’t even asked the girl her name or told her his.

Copyright © 2006 by Minna Murra, Inc., Reprinted by permission of Clarion Books / Houghton Mifflin Company.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

A beautifully written novel that puts a human face on history... Paterson at her best—and that's saying a lot.
Kirkus Reviews, Starred

The immigrant labor struggle is stirring and dramatic.
Booklist, ALA, Starred Review

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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Bread and Roses, Too 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Katherine Patetson doesn't disappoint. She is a master at children's literature and her historical novels are top notch.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I normally read fantasy and took a chance when I read the back of this book. But I decided to read it anyway and it was great. It was full of fellings and meaning and description. You'll love this book if you choose to read it, and you should.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was GREAT, and GOOD at the same time, but aa bit confusing, you should DEFINITLY read this, my mom suggested I read it and it's GREAT! First my teacher read it to uf out loud everyday before recess, and EVERYONE just wanted to read more!!! So you should read it or buy it!!! Great book. but sometimes you may want to go back and see what it's 'really about.' Just sometimes it gets off the edge and you have no idea what it's talking about but that's ikay! I love this book and I think you will too!! READ IT OR BUY IT!!!
Jessie_Bear on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Paterson compellingly presents the story of the Lawrence mill strike of 1912 through the point of view of two affected children, Rosa and Jake. Adding the second protagonist provides more perspective on living conditions and tension between classes as well as ethnicities, and there is a turning point in the story where the main protagonist becomes the secondary protagonist and vice versa. Although Jake appears early on throughout the novel, Rosa¿s inner turmoil over the strike propels the first half of the book as Paterson convincingly puts the reader at the crossroads of Rosa¿s concerns of wanting to be a ¿proper¿ American and Catholic while staying true to her immigrant family. Paterson makes brilliant use of Rosa¿s school teacher to further this tension, turning pro-strike and true American into an either/or binary. Rosa¿s happy ending is when the strike eventually ceases, but it is Jake who grows and develops more as a character, changing throughout the book. Paterson¿s secondary characters are somewhat unevenly developed given their importance. For instance, although Rosa¿s school teacher was given sufficient characterization and development, Rosa¿s older sister was somewhat underdeveloped, which is surprising considering her role in the book. However, it is clear that this book has been well researched and Paterson does a nearly seamless job of integrating her characters into her setting in a convincing manner. Bread and Roses, Too reads as a solid work of historical fiction and can be read alongside or in compliment to Lyddie, an earlier work of Paterson¿s with some common elements. This book is recommended for children ages ten to twelve.
frood42 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Young Rosa is anxious about her mother and sister's involvement in a strike of mill workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts; in the same town, Jake, a young mill worker now on strike, is trying to survive. This historical fiction novel portrays the mill strike in Lawrence through the viewpoints of two adolescents connected to, but not directly involved with, the strike. Though the strike is a strong presence in the novel, the main focus is the personal turmoil and changes these children experience as the strike progresses. Authorities Rosa was taught by her mother to obey-- the Catholic church and her schoolteacher-- have condemned the strike as sinful and dangerous, and Rosa fears her mother's involvement will destroy her family both morally and physically. Jake, though a mill worker, is too hungry and cold to become concerned with the strikers' ideals, and occasionally tries to cross the picket lines. By focusing on the children and their concerns, this novel excellently portrays a significant historical event from the perspective of an everyday individual, and shows what the children experienced while their friends and families tried to change the world. There is some implied violence and one especially disturbing scene that may make the book unsuitable for very young readers, but it is appropriate for upper level middle school or junior high readers.
hollyhox on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Historical Fiction. The 1912 ¿Bread and Roses¿ textile mill strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts, is seen through the eyes of Rosa Serutti, a 12-year-old immigrant, and 13-year-old Jake Beale, a child laborer in the mill. After a wage cut, Rosa¿s mother and older sister go on strike while Jake is fired, earning the ire of his alcoholic, abusive father. When the strike turns violent, Rosa and Jake are sent to live temporarily with a family in Vermont. Jake¿s prickly exterior falls away as he learns to trust his new father figure, while Rosa¿s impatience with her mother¿s old-world ways becomes a moot point when her life is in danger. Paterson has written a very realistic historic fictional account of the labor movement. The shifting point of view between Rosa and Jake allows each character to be well-developed. The plot moves along nicely and the setting rings true, but it¿s the sense of injustice that ties the children¿s perspective to the strike going on around them.
jnogal on LibraryThing 8 months ago
There were a few sentences MISSING from one of the pages toward the end of the book. The story was pretty good, but I wasn't too into it.
dreamerenglish2 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Bisi C.- This book is about two children, Rosa and Jake, who are trying to survive during a strike in Lawrence, MA. The two have to be sent to Vermont with some other children until the strike is over. It is a sad book about hardship and struggle but eventually things begin to get better for the two. I thought it was suspensful and emotional for both the characters. The point of view coming from each character changes every 2 or so chapter so it let's you see how the strike effected both their lives and their roles in. It contains some mild language but just barely. AMAZING histroical fiction book.
eduscapes on LibraryThing 11 months ago
One of the many things I like about Paterson is the way she can bring characters alive for readers. I'm particularly drawn to her historical fiction. Her books always make great titles for literature circles and social studies connections. Bread and Roses, Too is set during the 1912 labor strike in Lawrence Massachusetts. Some of the children of strikers were sent on "vacation" to Vermont to escape the potential violence. Like so many great historical fiction novels for young people, it made me want to learn more about the real people and events. I immediately went to the Library of Congress website to find photographs of the strike.
Catnelson on LibraryThing 11 months ago
Twelve-year-old Rosa Serutti's Italian immigrant mother and older sister have joined the strike, and many children -- including Rosa and her new friend, Jake -- are sent away to live with other families in other towns until the strike is over.
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RoseOfGuadalupe More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book very, very much. Worth reading twice.
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Kaitlin Prescott More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I think that it is a great book I love it it is so good one of the best books I have ever read, besides Elsewhere!
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Bread and Roses, Too' was an exelent book! I would definately recamend it. But, I also have a facination with the Worker's Union during this time! This story was easy to follow and very captivating, I didn't want to put it down [at most points]. The only thing that I would have wanted is that there would have been more about the strike at the end. But that's just minor. So stop reading this and start reading 'Bread and Roses, Too'!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is simply not a good book. It is not good.
Sandy Dufoe More than 1 year ago