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.
Elizabeth Winthrop has written over sixty books for readers of all ages. Her award-winning titles for children include The Castle in the Attic; Dumpy La Rue, illustrated by Betsy Lewin; and Shoes, illustrated by William Joyce. Her short story “The Golden Darters” was selected for The Best American Short Stories by Robert Stone. Under the name Elizabeth Winthrop Alsop, she is the author of the memoir piece Don’t Knock Unless You’re Bleeding: Growing Up in Cold War Washington. The daughter of Stewart Alsop, the political journalist, she divides her time between New York City and the Berkshires. Visit her at www.elizabethwinthrop.com.
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