Friday, August 9, 2013

Catching Up with Brave Girl

My goodness. So much has happened since Brave Girl entered the world in January.

Harper Collins created a fierce downloadable teacher's guide, which included connections to Common Core.

The book was selected by the Junior Library Guild and went on to receive four starred reviews,

 from School Library Journal which called it a "sparkling picture book biography,"

from Publisher's Weekly:  which said "Markel doesn’t sugarcoat the obstacles and injuries Lemlich faced as she went on to lead the “largest walkout of women workers in U.S. history,”

from Kirkus ("Catches the heart.") and from Booklist ("This book has fighting spirit in spades - you go, Clara!" )

In her review for The New York Times for Women's History Month, Pamela Paul called Brave Girl "an excellent, timely portrait of the labor leader"and according to Horn Book,

 "In her simple but powerful text Markel shows how multiple arrests, serious physical attacks, and endless misogyny failed to deter this remarkable woman as she set off on her lifelong path as a union activist."

It was an honor to launch the book on March 10 in celebration of International Women's Day, at Workmen's Circle in Los Angeles. Judy Fjell sang labor songs, Tania Verafeld read from a play about the Triangle fire, and Hershl Hartmann, a Yiddish translator and educator who knew Clara Lemlich, spoke about her lifelong commitment to social justice.
Clara on the mural at Workmen's Circle

In April, Brave Girl was nominated for an Amelia Bloomer award, and there are plans to release it as a paperback edition for PJ Library.

I am eminently grateful to Melissa Sweet for her wonderful illustrations (complete with stitchery, cloth and vintage documents), to the publisher for being so supportive, and most of all to Clara herself, for inspiring me with her courage and her legacy to the labor movement.

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