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

written by Michelle Markel, pictures by Melissa Sweet

A true story of Clara Lemlich, a young Ukrainian immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history.

When Clara 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 didn't stop Clara. She went to night school, spent hours studying English, and helped support her family by sewing in a shirtwaist factory.

Clara never quit, and she never accepted that girls should be treated poorly and paid little. Fed up with the mistreatment of her fellow laborers, Clara led the largest walkout of women workers the country had seen.


The watercolor and gouache illustrations are simple but evoke the time period well and breathe a freshness into the text.  Handstitching and machine work on a variety of fabrics is incorporated throughout the book.


Includes a bibliography and an author's note. It follows the plight of immigrants in America in the early 1900s, tackling topics like activism and the U.S. garment industry.