Up Before Daybreak: Cotton and People in America
Up Before Daybreak: Cotton and People in America
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Annotation: Provides a history of the cotton industry in America from the slaves who toiled in the fields where it grew to the women who worked in the mills in New England where it was made into clothing and other products.
Genre: Economics
Catalog Number: #1045
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Special Formats: Inventory Sale Inventory Sale
Copyright Date: 2006
Edition Date: c2006
Pages: 120 p.
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-439-63901-8 Perma-Bound: 0-605-05567-X
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-439-63901-9 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-05567-4
Dewey: 331.7
LCCN: 2005008128
Dimensions: 22 cm.
Language: English
Horn Book
Cotton has always been vital to the U.S. economy; here Hopkinson focuses on the hard lives of the people, especially the children, who raised the crop, took it to market, and turned it into cloth. Anecdotal vignettes from oral history enliven the account, and a generous selection of historical photographs, documents, and illustrations accompanies the text. Reading list, sources. Bib., ind.
Kirkus Reviews
"The voices of children weave through the story of cotton," and the story of cotton weaves through the story of our nation. Drawing on oral histories from the Federal Writers project of the 1930s and the oral-history interviews with Lowell mill workers in the 1970s and 1980s, Hopkinson makes history come alive through the voices of the people. Real people's stories are woven into a rich narrative of the history: clothmaking, the cotton gin, slavery, the Great Migration, the Great Depression and the continuing problem of child labor around the world. This volume, like the author's Shutting Out the Sky (2003), is a model of superb nonfiction writing and how to use primary sources to create engaging narratives. The prose is clear, the documentation excellent and well-selected photographs support the text beautifully. What might have been a dry topic is lively, the voices of the children vivid and personal. (Nonfiction. 9+)
School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 4-8-Making excellent use of primary sources (even noting when these sources may be less than accurate) and extended with black-and-white photos and period reproductions, this excellent work gives a detailed picture of the effect of cotton production on the social structure of the United States. From 1607, when the earliest English settlers arrived in Virginia, cotton was among the plants grown in colonial gardens. With the onset of the Industrial Revolution in England, the demand for it increased, and the southern colonies found it lucrative to step up production. That cotton culture was part and parcel of the slave system becomes clear in this thoughtfully composed volume. Hopkinson also considers the young women who flocked to Lowell, MA, and the surrounding area to work in the textile factories. After the Civil War, the southern economy remained dependent on cotton, trading the slave system for a sharecropping system, and moving many of the mills to the south. Following workers' histories up through the Great Depression, the final chapter discusses child labor in the past and present. This informative work extends titles such as Arthur John L'Hommedieu's From Plant to Blue Jeans (Scholastic Library, 1998). A first-rate report and research source.-Ann Welton, Grant Elementary School, Tacoma, WA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Gr. 5 8. The author of Shutting Out the Sky: Life in the Tenements (2003) here explains to middle-graders how "the story of cotton . . . is like a thread that stretches far back into America's past." In unraveling that thread from the industrial revolution to the 1950s demise of the Lowell cotton mills, Hopkinson discusses the history and sociology of king cotton, frequently emphasizing the children who labored under slave masters, endured dead-end mill jobs, or helped sharecropping parents claw out a living. Stories of real people, such as mill girl Lucy Larcom who escaped the "incessant clash" of the looms to become a famous poet, sharply focus the dramatic history, as do arresting archival photos of stern youngsters manipulating hoes, cotton sags, or bobbins. Neither too long nor too dense, this won't intimidate students reluctantly tackling research projects, and teachers and children alike will welcome the concluding list of suggested readings for youth, the scholarly bibliography, and thorough endnotes. Rarely have the links between northern industry, southern agriculture, slavery, war, child labor, and poverty been so skillfully distilled for this audience.
Voice of Youth Advocates
Cotton came to the New World in 1607 with the first colonists and soon became a vital export crop. Cultivating and processing cotton was work intensive, however. The need for a cheap labor force was filled by increasing the flow of slave labor into America. This thoughtful work examines the lives of slaves who toiled from before dawn until after dusk in hot fields. Inventions like the cotton gin and their impact on the industry are also evaluated. Following chapters describe how post-Civil War sharecroppers continued to live in ex-slave quarters and scraped to get by, raising their own cotton crops and overpaying often-cruel landlords. Many children still worked the fields rather than playing or attending school. Meager diets of pork fat and flour led to prevalent malnourishment and disease. Also covered is the mill industry of the northern states where children were equally overworked. Girls spent the day at looms creating cloth or sewing in hot, oppressive factory buildings. Called "lintheads," they often faced taunts from other children. Generations of families could not escape this cycle of poverty. The boll weevil, droughts, the Great Depression, and technology eventually brought the era of handpicked and cultivated cotton to a close. The last chapter reminds the reader that children still work in fields and factories all over the world because of cotton. The author, renowned for writing juvenile historical fiction, incorporates poignant oral histories and powerful photographs to illustrate the human toll that the cotton plant has wrought. Her work here is highly recommended.-Kevin Beach.
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references (p. 105-107) and index.
Word Count: 20,184
Reading Level: 7.0
Interest Level: 5-9
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 7.0 / points: 3.0 / quiz: 105282 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:7.2 / points:7.0 / quiz:Q38696
Lexile: 1060L
Guided Reading Level: Y
Fountas & Pinnell: Y

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.

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