Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909

Brave Girl by Michelle Markel
Illustrated by Melissa Sweet
Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909
Genre: Juvenile Nonfiction / Biography & Autobiography
Ages 4 to 8, Grades P to 5
Pages: 32 8.5 x 10.5
Date Published: January 22nd, 2012
Publisher: Balzer + Bray

The inspiring true story of Clara Lemlich, a young immigrant girl who led the biggest strike of women workers in U.S. history

When Clara Lemlich arrived in America, she couldn’t speak English. She didn’t know that young women had to go to work, that they traded an education for long hours of labor, that she was expected to grow up fast.

But that did not stop Clara: She went to night school, spent hours studying English, and helped support her family by sewing in a factory.

Clara never quit. And she never accepted that girls should be treated poorly and paid little. So Clara fought back. Fed up with the mistreatment of her fellow laborers, Clara led the largest walkout of women workers in the country’s history.

Clara Lemlich was a leader of the Uprising of 20,000, the massive strike of shirtwaist workers in New York’s garment industry in 1909. In wonderfully vivid and energetic language-and complete with engaging and informative historical back matter-this nonfiction picture book makes Clara’s powerful, inspirational story accessible for all readers.

This is an excellent historical non-fiction biography book for every child to read, but especially so to show little girls what a brave girl can make in a difference in the world and every one’s lives. Clara Lemlich is one such example and reading through the fabulously illustrated pages of this picture book a reader can be impressed an proud of history and the changes we can make. The pictures are great, made up of water color as well as cut and paste and even sewing stitches on some pages gives it interest and texture that make one want to just really look and take it all in. In my humble opinion, it brings the idea of being a garment worker even more to life. This one is a winner and I will definitely want to get a real copy for our shelves.

*Thanks to HarperCollins for providing an ARC for review.*

Michelle Markel is a former freelance journalist who wrote stories and opinion pieces for the Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times. After her two daughters were born, she started writing for young people. She has written a variety of picture books, including, most recently, Tyrannosaurus Math and The Shark That Taught Me English. Michelle is also a founding member of the Children’s Authors Network. She and her husband, an anthropologist, live in West Hills, CA, with their two sweet cats. You can visit her online at

Print Friendly