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The Bobbin Girl by Emily Arnold McCully
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The Bobbin Girl

by Emily Arnold McCully

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The Bobbin Girl by Emily A. McCully is an empowering story about women working during the Industrial Period in Lowell, Massachusetts. Lowell was one of the first industrial cities used to produce cloth, and women were hired to work in the factories in deplorable conditions. Factory owners hired women to work in the factories because it was one of the few places women could work; therefore, the owners got away with paying women much less than they would have paid men.

In this story, Rebecca goes to work at the age of 10 to help her widow mother pay bills to run a company boardinghouse. Surrounded by young, working women, Rebecca becomes empowered by the young women staying at the boardinghouse, especially Judith. After factor owners decide to cut the already low wages they are paying the women who work at the mill, Judith leads a "turnout." The women march out of the mill and down the street, and Judith gives the first speech ever given in public by a women. The women follow her, but over the course of the next week, some return to work out of fear, while others pack up their belongings to return home. Rebecca feels that all hope is lost when she sees her idol, Judith, packing up her bags to leave town. Judith comforts her and assures her that they were not defeated, and that she is not giving up the fight for for what is right, and Rebecca agrees to do the same. ( )
  nfernan1 | Aug 31, 2017 |
There are many reasons why I liked this book. First, the author did a wonderful job connecting history to a suspenseful and meaningful book. A young girl, Rebecca works in a textile mill. She experiences harsh conditions of her coworkers and is left with a conflict. Her coworkers want to rally and fight against these labor laws in order to get the life they deserve, however Rebecca doesn't want to lose her job. Another reason why I liked this book so much was because of the illustrations. The illustrations were clear depictions of what was happening in the text and I was able to see the facial expressions throughout each character in the story. The main idea of this book is to shine light on the feminist protests that were evident in history and to visually see the struggles that young women faced when working long and brutal hours. ( )
  kelseyjenkens | Apr 18, 2016 |
I really liked this book because it was almost entirely about women and showed the struggles they had during the Industrial Revolution. It shows to fight for what is right and keep your head up high, even if you are unsuccessful. I think it would be good for fourth grade and up. ( )
  murandapatanda | Mar 14, 2016 |
This book told a compelling tale of girls in a factory rebelling against the authorities in a fight for fair wages. It would be great for accompanying a history lesson on the industrial revolution, factory workers, and equity in business. Some other concepts for discussion include women's rights, the struggle for education, privilege, and other social topics. I love the paintings and the strong role model in the book. We all need a good lesson on course and self-reliance every now and then. ( )
  AmandaLK | Feb 17, 2015 |
Rebecca Putney is a ten year-old girl who lives in Lowell, Massachusetts during the1830s. Her mother runs a boardinghouse for the Lowell mill workers. Rebecca is a bobbin girl and she goes to work every morning at 5:30 and often doesn’t leave until 7:00 at night. Women are often picked for jobs using the loom machines because they could do the same work for a cheaper amount than their male workers. One girl who boards and works with Rebecca, Judith, works at a loom and is saving her money so that she can go to an academy one day since women are now beginning to be allowed to go to school. Judith has taught Rebecca the importance of education, but she teaches Rebecca something more important: self-reliance. When the Lowell mills decide they are going to lower the wages of their employees, Judith starts a petition amongst the workers. After she is fired, she starts rallying the other workers to take a stand against the mill. Rebecca, who idolizes Judith, leads a bunch of women to the protest, the first of its kind. Sadly, their protest was unsuccessful. Judith, along with many of the women, leave the mill to seek work elsewhere. Before she leaves, Judith tells Rebecca that she will need to take her place in the mill and be the leader of such demonstrations and be the voice of her workers, which Rebecca says she will gladly do. Judith believes that if people work together against their employers, they may have the chance to be successful in improving working conditions and wages.
This book would make a great mentor text because of its historical context. Rebecca's story is so accurate in terms of what girls her age were doing to help out their families. Strikes did occur as women realized they could and should deserve better standards for living and working conditions. This book could tie along with units of 19th century American history, perspectives, and human rights. It's very educational for upper elementary students and they can relate to a girl who is around their age. ( )
  aimeestanaland | Nov 24, 2012 |
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A ten-year-old bobbin girl working in a textile mill in Lowell, Massachusetts, in the 1830s, must make a difficult decision--will she participate in the first workers' strike in Lowell?

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