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Counting on Grace by Elizabeth Winthrop

Counting on Grace

by Elizabeth Winthrop

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3702344,180 (4.03)1
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I absolutely believe that this novel could help children to understand and care about history. Children went to work when they were only in what would be our equivalent of middle school. If that doesn’t help a child today understand what life was like, I’m not sure what would. Especially when the author talks about what the mill was like and what they did every day for 12 hours.

This novel did help me to understand the time period. I understood what it was like for immigrants at the time. They really didn’t have any choice in how their lives would turn out. They lived in mill housing, they had to work in mills, or they would be homeless.

I don’t know that this novel made me want to learn more about the time period. It made me want to learn more about child labor. Counting on Grace helped me understand the tight spot families were in at the time.

The themes in Counting on Grace could be relevant to our time. Children often do drop out of high school to get jobs at 15 and 16 to help their families with finances. The novel does talk about how important it is for families to stick together, not explicitly, but the fact that housing is multi-generational speaks volumes.
  caliesunshine | Aug 12, 2018 |
This book, written for about 8-12-year-olds, is one adults can enjoy as well. It's historical fiction, based on facts and real people. The story and the cover photo of a real girl are both haunting. Grace, who can speak both French and English and can read, is sent to work in a mill in 1910 Vermont. Her mother and sister work there, as do many in her small town. She misses school and her friend Arthur, who also reads well. This is the story of child labor in factories, of Grace's family and others, and events that happen during this time. Grace is a spunky child with a sharp awareness of herself and others. Wonderful book for young readers and adults alike. Well researched.

( )
  Rascalstar | Jan 21, 2017 |
I read this piece of historical fiction for my daughter’s book club and thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s sad to think that families had to take young children out of school so that they could work to help keep a roof over their head and food on the table. Although not touched on in the book, the truth of the matter is that it still happens today in some areas of the country. ( )
  lynnski723 | Dec 31, 2016 |
Grace was such a captivating character! She really drove this story. I was sad to see it end because I wanted to hear more about what happened to her has she grew up. ( )
  EmilyRokicki | Feb 26, 2016 |
Grace and her French-Canadian family live in a mill town in Vermont.
Grace is looking forward to helping support the family by working as a
doffer with her mother in the fabric mill, but her teacher Miss Lesley
insists that all the kids get their education. She particularly
encourages Grace to study for the Normal School certification test and become a teacher. Instead, Grace joins her family at the mill but finds herself unsuited to the monotony and hard work. During one of her shifts, a photographer visitssss the mill on the ruse of photographing machinery for the "head office." It is actually Lewis Hines of the National Child Labor Committee. He promises Grace and her friend Arthur that he will work on getting them out of the mill. Miss Lesley, too, is active in exposing the abuse of child labor. Grace eventually does escape the mill with her parents' blessing: Miss Lesley has been fired for her anti-mill activity and Grace is teaching temporarily, with hopes for a better future. ( )
  Salsabrarian | Feb 2, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
BookList Review
Gr. 6-9. Inspired by a Lewis Hine photo of a child at work in a Vermont cotton mill in the early twentieth century, Winthrop imagines the story of Grace, 12, torn from her one-room schoolhouse and forced to work long hours in the textile mill as a "doffer," turning cotton into thread, alongside her mother, in the spinning room. The child-labor story is gripping--the dangerous working conditions, the work of activists who sought to publicize the abuse--and although sometimes the research overwhelms the story, Grace's present-tense narrative makes the history heartbreaking. Grace is no sweet victim. Furious at having to leave school and distressed by her failure to satisfy her French Canadian immigrant family, she quarrels with her best friend and smart ex-classmate, who deliberately injures himself on the machines to get back in school. The fiction is framed by notes about Hine and a bibliography that will lead readers to such books as Russell Freedman's Kids at Work: Lewis Hine and the Crusade against Child Labor0 (1994) as well as to accounts of abuse today. --Hazel Rochman Copyright 2006 Booklist Distributed by Syndetic Solutions, Inc.
added by kthomp25 | editBooklist, Hazel Rochman (Apr 12, 2010)
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For Candy someone to be counted on...
If I could tell the story in words, I wouldn't need to lug around a camera - Lewis Hine
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"Grace, your turn."
Dear Miss Lesley, As promised, I'm sending you the report we made of mill conditions on the whole of New England. Also, here is a notebook for Grace and Arthur. I would be most grateful if they could write a full description of their daily lives in and out of the mill. Hard facts and details with support what people see in my photographs have proven to be most helpful in convincing the public of the truth if the cause. Yours cordially, Lewis Hine
September 22, 1910 Dear Mr. Hine, This is the notebook you wanted me and Arthur to fill up. I had to do all the writing. Arthur cut off two of his fingers when he bought then in a frame and he couldn't hold the pencil after that. He left town with his mother and Miss Lesley got fired and I'm the teacher for mow. It's not easy, but it's better than the mill. Thank you for the Pictures. Your friend, Grace Forcier
Dear Arthur and Grace, I was called away on urgent business. Continue you writing exercises this week, Grace. Arthur, I expect a report on THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE next week. Miss Lesley
Dear Grace, Thank you for your help. I saw you had your eye on that little notebook of mine so I shall send you one if your own with your photograph. I want you to write down your life so it doesn't disappear on you too quickly. Do everything you can to get yourself to the Normal School for teacher training.     My best regards to your family and to Arthur. Tell him to be patient and bide his time. And please let Miss Lesley know that I will stay in touch as I promised. Cordially, Lew Hine
To Miss Anna Putnam, National Child Labor Committee, Vermont Chapter, Bennington, Vermont.     Dear Madam, This is to inform you that there are underage children working in the cotton mill in the town of North Pownal, Vermont. These children rage in age from eight to thirteen. They are employed in the following dangerous tasks.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553487833, Paperback)

1910. Pownal, Vermont. At 12, Grace and her best friend Arthur must leave school and go to work as a “doffers” on their mothers’ looms in the mill. Grace’s mother is the best worker, fast and powerful, and Grace desperately wants to help her. But she’s left handed and doffing is a right-handed job. Grace’s every mistake costs her mother, and the family. She only feels capable on Sundays, when she and Arthur receive special lessons from their teacher. Together they write a secret letter to the Child Labor Board about underage children working in Pownal. A few weeks later a man with a camera shows up. It is the famous reformer Lewis Hine, undercover, collecting evidence for the Child Labor Board. Grace’s brief acquaintance with Hine and the photos he takes of her are a gift that changes her sense of herself, her future, and her family’s future.

From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:48 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

It's 1910 in Pownal, Vermont. At 12 Grace and her best friend Arthur must go to work in the mill, helping their mothers work the looms. Together Grace and Arthur write a secret letter to the Child Labor Board about underage children working in the mill. A few weeks later, Lewis Hine, a famous reformer arrives undercover to gather evidence. Grace meets him and appears in some of his photographs, changing her life forever.… (more)

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