Friday, November 05, 2010

Guest Post: Uprising by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Today's guest post comes from Dana W. Fisher, who discusses Uprising by Margaret Peterson Haddix and provides some curriculum connections.  Enjoy!  --Melissa

Margaret Peterson Haddix
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (2007)
ISBN: 978-1-4169-1171-5

Published in 2007, this little gem of a book was almost immediately overshadowed by the publication of the first book in Haddix’s new series.  I think it deserves your consideration and a second look.

Against the backdrop of the Triangle Waist Company Fire, one of the worst workplace disasters in history, the threads of the lives of three young women are woven together telling a story of the struggle for women’s suffrage, the plight of immigrants in America, and the fight for fair labor practices and decent working conditions.

Bella is a new immigrant from Italy who has come to America to try to save the lives of her starving family back home.  She must rely on others to help her with everything and she is cheated and victimized by most of them.  Yetta, a Russian Jew, lives with her sister and is consumed with the new union movement. Jane, a bored socialite, begins to educate herself and is exposed to the young, immigrant working girls during their strike.  Her encounter with Yetta during picketing eventually leads Jane to meet Bella and to translate a sad, devastating letter from Italy for her. Jane’s compassion for Bella’s situation stirs her to bring the young woman to her home to comfort and nurse her in her grief.

When Jane eventually breaks from her father, she flees to the Triangle factory and her friends who shelter her.  Finding a job as governess to the daughters of one of the Triangle owners, Jane learns first hand about the life of a working girl on the lower East Side.  In the harrowing final pages, all three young women find themselves at the Triangle factory on the day of the fire. Sadly, only one survives. 

Margaret Peterson Haddix has always been able to write a good page-turner and this is no exception.  Uprising reaches another level, however, because of her emotional involvement with the characters.  As in her earlier book, Don’t You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphrey, this one will haunt you long after the final chapter.
Recommended grade levels:    7 and up

Language Arts: Told from the points of view of three different characters, Uprising provides a unique perspective on this literary characteristic. 
Social Studies:  Early 20th century reform movements—women’s suffrage, labor unions, working conditions, emigration and immigration.
Character Education: All three young women admirably display respect, responsibility, and caring.

Beautifully constructed site which includes many primary source documents such as letters, court testimony, pictures, and lists.
Frances Perkins, Franklin Roosevelt’s Secretary of Labor, was a witness to the Triangle fire and called it “the first day of the New Deal.” This site includes photographs of the fire and its aftermath as well as a mural commissioned by the ILGW.
A slide show type preview of ABC-Clio’s A History of the American Suffragist Movement.  It includes historical photographs, documents, and a timeline.
Also a Cornell site, this provides a short history of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union.
This site provides commentary and historic photos of immigration to America during the early 20th century.  There is also a separate entry devoted to the Triangle Fire.

Dana W. Fisher, middle school library media specialist
“The Quilted Librarian”:

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