In this stunning nonfiction volume, award-winning author Deborah Hopkinson weaves the stories of slaves, sharecroppers, and mill workers into a tapestry illuminating the history of cotton in America.
In UP BEFORE DAYBREAK, acclaimed author Deborah Hopkinson captures the voices of the forgotten men, women, and children who worked in the cotton industry in America over the centuries. The voices of the slaves who toiled in the fields in the South, the poor sharecroppers who barely got by, and the girls who gave their lives to the New England mills spring to life through oral histories, archival photos, and Hopkinson's engaging narrative prose style. These stories are amazing and often heartbreaking, and they are imbedded deep in our nation's history.
About the Author
Deborah Hopkinson is the author of such award-winning children’s books as SWEET CLARA AND THE FREEDOM QUILT; GIRL WONDER: A BASEBALL STORY IN NINE INNINGS; A BAND OF ANGELS; and Dear America: HEAR MY SORROW. Her nonfiction books, SHUTTING OUT THE SKY, LIFE IN THE TENEMENTS OF NEW YORK, a Jane Addams Peace Award Honor book and an Orbis Pictus Award Honor Book; and UP BEFORE DAYBREAK, COTTON AND PEOPLE IN AMERICA, a Carter G. Woodson Honor Award winner, have garnered much acclaim.
Deborah lives near Portland, Oregon, where, in addition to writing, she works full-time as the Vice President for Advancement for the Pacific Northwest College of Art.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Up Before Daybreak is a spectacular example of a historical nonfiction book. The history of the cotton production in the United States, along with actual photos from the time, express a true feeling of what people went thru while working all stages of cotton. It discussed evolution of cotton farming from before the civil war to the 1940's, including innovations that made workers jobs much easier. Students will walk away with more knowledge on the topic than any textbook will ever give them.I enjoyed reading this book for the fact that it gave very factual information in a very relaxed, non-textbook kind of way. The author used actual photographs from the time period being discussed to help readers visualize exactly what was being said. I think this book would be an excellent addition to any middle school classroom library. You could also use it for younger grades, but you would have to just pick sections out and have discussions. I believe that upper grade students could enjoy it as well.
On page one of Up Before Daybreak, we read, ¿The story of cotton¿growing it, taking it to market, and making it into cloth¿is like a thread that stretches far back into America¿s past. To understand how Henry¿s sister was sold for fifteen bales of cotton, we have to follow that thread back to the beginning.¿ Hopkinson weaves slavery, economics, politics, fashion, daily life, etc. into a this well-dressed book, filled with pictures, sidebars, illustrations. She does it with stitch-perfect words. What is especially fine about this book, are the many personal examples and quotes from a black and white cross section of people. We travel with cotton from colonial times all the way into the twentieth century. The language of the book sings and the research is impeccable. Recommended for middle school and high school libraries.
Deborah Hopkinson, acclaimed author and winner of the Carter G. Woodson Honor: National Council for the Social Studies, prevails! Hopkinson's historical fiction work Up Before Daybreak: Cotton and People in America a book for juveniles provides a rich narrative prose of those engrossed in the cotton industry from 1607 through the 1950's. Her work not only reveals the struggles of African slaves in the field, but also provides stories of sharecroppers and tenant farmers who struggle to survive post civil war. Perhaps equally telling are the oral histories of young girls who are entrapped in poverty and in the intolerable working conditions of the New England Cotton Mills. As the narratives transition into the Great Depression they reinforce the powerful effects that insects, weather, and technology had on the economic cotton system. While these accounts prove to be emotionally challenging for the narrators, the stories of poverty, struggle, and hard work are even more impressionable for the reader in the last chapter which re-emphasizes the archival photos of child labor/workers that had appeared throughout the text. The narrator ends the text with a reminder for the reader, one that claims the anguish experienced by child labor/workers continues in other countries today. Scholastic suggested reader levels are grades 4-8, ages 9-12. Although other reviews have indicated that this read may appeal to readers in a much larger age group 9-17 and I agree.