Bread and Roses, Too
Bread and Roses, Too
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Annotation: Jake and Rosa, two children, form an unlikely friendship as they try to survive and understand the 1912 Bread and Roses strike of mill workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts.
Catalog Number: #4798188
Format: Paperback
All Formats: Search
Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Copyright Date: 2006
Edition Date: 2006
Pages: 275 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-547-07651-7
ISBN 13: 978-0-547-07651-5
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2005031702
Dimensions: 20 cm.
Language: English
Horn Book
This tale is about two children caught up in the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Jake labors in the textile mills, and Rosa goes to school while her mother and sister toil. Both Jake and Rosa are unwilling coattail participants in the labor action. The themes (e.g., children forced by circumstance to an unnatural self-reliance) are familiar--but nobody does them better.
Kirkus Reviews
Known as the Bread and Roses strike, the 1912 mill workers' protest against working conditions in the mills of Lawrence, Mass., is the historical context for Paterson's latest work, a beautifully written novel that puts a human face on history. When young Rosa Serutti, looking for shoes she's hidden, meets Jake Beale sleeping in a trash pile, the two become acquaintances and, eventually, part of a family of sorts. When conditions in Lawrence turn dangerous, "shoe girl" Rosa and "Rosa's rat" Jake are among the many children sent "on vacation" to host families in cities such as Philadelphia, New York and Barre, Vt., a part of American history not often covered in textbooks. Readers will be totally wrapped up in the stories of Rosa and Jake, Mrs. Serutti and older daughter Anna, both active in the strike, and Mr. and Mrs. Gerbati, the host family in Barre. The history is neatly woven into this story that explores the true meaning of community and family in hard times. A fine historical note provides additional background. Paterson at her best—and that's saying a lot. (acknowledgments) (Fiction. 10-14)
Publishers Weekly

Returning to themes she explored in Lyddie, Paterson sets this novel in the winter of 1912 in Lawrence, Mass., where the plight of textile mill workers unfolds through the alternating third-person perspectives of a boy millworker, Jake Beale, and Rosa Serutti, whose mother and sister work in the mill. The two meet when sixth-grader Rosa looks for her discarded shoes in the trash heap where 13-year-old Jake, who has fled his abusive, alcoholic father, plans to sleep for the night. Though they do not introduce themselves, Rosa offers the boy her family's kitchen floor for the night. Their paths cross again, most notably after the workers strike, and violence escalates to the point where striking parents send their children to families who support the union cause in New York City and Vermont. Rosa, headed to Vermont, helps Jake escape with her. The book feels like two stories in one: the first part immersed in details of the historical strike (an endnote lays out the facts), and the second part set in Barre, Vt. Unlike Lyddie, Rosa is a bystander to the workers' plight (though she does come up with the title mantra for the strikers), so readers may find her character elusive until the book's second half. Jake eventually becomes sympathetic, but mostly due to the kindness of the memorable Mr. Gerbati, the children's foster father and a gifted Vermont stonecutter. Readers may wish for an entire book about this gentle man. Ages 10-14. (Sept.)

School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Paterson has drawn upon the facts of the famous 1912 Bread and Roses strike in the mills of Lawrence, MA, and the sympathetic response of the citizens of Barre, VT, to tell the story of two children enmeshed in complex events. Rosa Serutti's mother and older sister work in the mills and are joining the protest against unfair labor practices. Jake Beale works there to keep himself and his alcoholic father alive. As the strike turns ugly, arrangements are made for children to leave Lawrence temporarily, and Rosa is sent to an elderly couple, the Gerbatis, in Barre. After a terrifying incident in which he finds his father dead, Jake sneaks onto the train, mistaking its destination as New York City. He convinces Rosa to say he is her older brother and to persuade the Gerbatis to keep him, too. Illiterate "Sal" begs off going to school, working instead in Mr. Gerbati's stonecutting business where, despite fair treatment, the temptation to steal overwhelms him. Caught in the act, he learns that the forbidding man is really a compassionate soul who gives him the chance he needs to make a new life for himself. Paterson has skillfully woven true events and real historical figures into the fictional story and created vivid settings, clearly drawn characters, and a strong sense of the hardship and injustice faced by the mostly immigrant mill workers. Ethnic rivalries and prejudices play an important role, and the alternating points of view of Rosa and Jake allow for a broader picture and add tension and balance.-Marie Orlando, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Rosa, 12, wants to be an educated "civilized" American and she hates it when her militant Italian immigrant mother and sister join the mill workers' strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts, in 1912. Jake, 13, is native-born and homeless, trying to work, sometimes finding shelter in Rosa's crowded tenement home. From the two kids' alternating viewpoints gry, kind, desperate terson brings close the labor history, especially the role of women and children, their work and daily struggle, and their drive to form a union, led by famous anarchist ("atheist!") strike leaders from across the country. In the second part of the book the children are sent to safety with sympathetic Italian American families in Barre, Vermont, where Jake finds a loving home and satisfying work at last. The immigrant labor struggle is stirring and dramatic, with connections to contemporary issues: prejudice against immigrants (in this case, "wops"); newcomers' struggling with English. In a lengthy note Paterson fills in the exciting union history, but as in The Great Gilly Hopkins (1987), it is the kindness between the mean foster kid and a tough, needy adult (a dad this time) that breaks your heart.
Voice of Youth Advocates
The 1912 textile mill strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts, known as the Bread and Roses strike, is seen through the eyes of twelve-year-old Rosa Serutti and thirteen-year-old Jake Beale. Rosa's father was killed in a mill accident, and her mother and older sister work in the mill, affected by the horrible working conditions and the recent cut in hours and pay. Rosa goes to school and is influenced by her teacher's comments against the strike. Jake is a mill worker, supporting himself and his alcoholic father. Rosa and Jake meet in a trash heap where he is spending the night away from his abusive father and where Rosa is looking for her shoes. The mill workers, most of whom are immigrants, suffer greatly from the winter cold and lack of food, clothing, and shelter, but they are determined to remain united against the mill owner. They receive assistance from outside groups, and as the strike continues and violence grows, sympathizers in other cities invite the strikers' children into their homes. Rosa is sent to Barre, Vermont, assisting Jake in escaping from Lawrence by saying that he is her older brother. The two live with the wonderful Gerbatis, finding comfort and caring. Paterson creates well-developed characters who invite empathy. The terrible conditions under which they lived-the stink; the dust and filth; the lack of food, heat, or any bit of comfort-all are described in detail that increases understanding of the suffering and courage of the strikers and those who helped them. Their story is history made memorable.-Susan Levine.
Word Count: 60,875
Reading Level: 4.9
Interest Level: 5-9
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.9 / points: 9.0 / quiz: 110098 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:7.1 / points:16.0 / quiz:Q39523
Lexile: 810L
Guided Reading Level: W
Fountas & Pinnell: W
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.

Excerpted from Bread and Roses, Too by Katherine Paterson
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

2013 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award Rosa's mother is singing again, for the first time since Papa died in an accident in the mills. But instead of filling their cramped tenement apartment with Italian lullabies, Mamma is out on the streets singing union songs, and Rosa is terrified that her mother and older sister, Anna, are endangering their lives by marching against the corrupt mill owners. After all, didn't Miss Finch tell the class that the strikers are nothing but rabble-rousers--an uneducated, violent mob? Suppose Mamma and Anna are jailed or, worse, killed? What will happen to Rosa and little Ricci? When Rosa is sent to Vermont with other children to live with strangers until the strike is over, she fears she will never see her family again. Then, on the train, a boy begs her to pretend that he is her brother. Alone and far from home, she agrees to protect him . . . even though she suspects that he is hiding some terrible secret. From a beloved, award-winning author, here is a moving story based on real events surrounding an infamous 1912 strike.

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