Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Mother Jones: Labor Leader

Mother Jones: Labor Leader

Connie Colwell Miller
Illustrator:  Steve Erwin , Charles Barnett III 
Nonfiction graphic novel  Series
For ages 8 to 10
Capstone Press, 2006   ISBN: 978-0736896627

Mary was born in Ireland and her family was severely affected by the failure of the potato crop in the 1840's. So much so in fact that it was decided that the family would move to Canada where there were more opportunities for work. Mary grew up to become a teacher, and then she moved south to the state of Tennessee where she married and had children. Mary's family was very poor and she knew what it was like to have to do without. She also knew what it was like to be a member of the working class, a class which had very little power to change its circumstances for the better.

When Mary's husband and children died during a yellow fever epidemic, she moved once more looking for a new life. She ended up in Chicago where she continued to see how ill-used the poor working class people were. At every turn she saw how they suffered while the rich flourished.

Finally in the 1890's Mary began to become active in the labor movement. Giving speeches, she fought for the unions and became the "mother" of working people who did not have decent working conditions, who were not paid enough, and who had no one to speak for them. She participated in strikes and was arrested several times. Thanks her hard work and her refusal to give up, Mary made a difference in the lives of hundreds of men, women, and children all over the United States.

This excellent picture book will help children to understand that there once was a time when many of America's workers lived and worked under appalling conditions. Mother Jones spoke for these people, knowing all too well that they were suffering at the hands of their employers.

An inspirational story combined with a graphic rich format makes this a compelling work of non-fiction.