Saturday, July 15, 2006

Cosmic Again

Last book was TWICE TOLD, short stories inspired by original art. I just finished Elizabeth Winthrop's new book, COUNTING ON GRACE, which is historical fiction about a twelve-year-old girl in the early 18th century who doffs bobbins in a cotton mill in Vermont. And what was Elizabeth Winthrop's inspiration for this book? A Lewis Hine photograph in his collection which documented child labor in the early 1900's!! (There's also a one room school in this one. This is just getting too weird.)

I'm probably going to have to twist the arms of my literature circle group to read this -- they are avid NON-readers of historical fiction -- but they read both CASTLE IN THE ATTIC and BATTLE FOR THE CASTLE last year and vowed that they wanted Elizabeth Winthrop to write a new book. Well, this isn't quite what they had in mind, but I think they'll fall in love. Grace is a likeable character, contrary down to her stubborn left-handedness and her inability to sit still or concentrate. It seems that she'll fall into the trap of a lifetime of work at the mill, but because of the influences of Grace's teacher, a visit from Mr. Hine, her best friend Arthur's deliberate mangling of his hand to escape mill work, and her mother (as much of a sharp-edged, contrary character as Grace is), Grace winds up, at age 12, the substitute teacher in the mill school when her teacher is fired for her work with Mr. Hine against child labor. GREAT characters. SUPERB writing. EXCELLENT end notes about Louis Hine and the photograph that inspired Elizabeth Winthrop.

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