Fannie Never Flinched: One Woman’s Courage in the Struggle for American Labor Union Rights

Mary Cronk Farrell. Abrams, $19.95 (56p) ISBN 978-1-4197-1884-7

Farrell (Pure Grit) spotlights little-known activist Fannie Sellins (1867–1919) in an accessible biography that also serves as a valuable introduction to the U.S. labor rights’ movement. Widowed with four children, Sellins worked in garment sweatshops in St. Louis, Mo., at the turn of the 20th century. She successfully united her fellow workers to fight for better wages and working conditions, and went on to do the same for workers in other industries. She butted up against anti-union coal mine owners, and was ultimately killed for the causes she championed. Over six brief chapters, Farrell deftly places Sellins’s story within the larger context of immigration and industrialization at the time. Stitched blue-denim illustrations on the endpapers color coordinate with blue-tinted archival photographs of immigrant workers at sewing machines, in mines, and in company towns. In a nod to Sellins’s work as a seamstress, images of buttons, gears, and stitching help frame each spread. Readers interested in the history of workers’ rights shouldn’t miss this entrée to the subject, which is bolstered by a timeline of labor struggles, source notes, and other resources. Ages 10–14. Agent: Stephen Fraser, Jennifer De Chiara Literary. (Nov.)