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by Mary Wilkins

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From Publishers Weekly
This grittily unsentimental depiction of life in a 1920s Appalachian coal mining town--before labor unions, OSHA regulations and child labor laws--offers modern readers plenty to reflect upon. With Pa Mourfield bitterly keeping to his bed after being crippled in a mine accident, the days are an endless round of chores for 11-year-old Emmy and her four siblings as they help Ma care for boarders. When Gene, 14, becomes a miner to enable the family to stay in their company-owned house, Pa sinks into deeper despair, after angrily breaking the beloved banjo that he can't play one-handed. Another mine accident becomes the catalyst for him to emerge from his slough of self-pity, rejoin the family and even offer to teach Emmy to play the instrument she had repaired. Green ( The War at Home ) refrains from editorializing and, in letting her characters speak for themselves, deftly shows how a brave and loving spirit can empower and ennoble the otherwise humble and downtrodden. Ages 10-14.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal
Grade 3-5-- Life in a Kentucky mining town in 1924 is harsh for the Mourfield children. Pa's permanent disability from an accident in the mining shaft has resulted in the family's need to work by providing meals to coal company employees. The largest burden falls on Ma, 11-year-old Emmy, and her two brothers, one of whom is sent into the mines to maintain the family's residence in a company dwelling. The physical hardship is aggravated by the family's emotional stress brought on by their father's extreme depression. Through it all, Emmy emerges as a strong-willed, mature young girl determined to carry on. Serious issues of mine safety, union organizing, child labor, etc., are dealt with candidly and realistically; Green has also included some light and humorous scenarios. A descriptive view of the time period and lifestyle, conveyed with poignancy. --Rita Soltan, Baldwin Public Library, Birmingham, MI
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Card catalog description
In the 1920s when her father is disabled in a coal mining accident, eleven-year-old Emmy and the others in her family do what they can to help, with her fourteen-year-old brother taking Pa's place in the mines.



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