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Children's Literature Reviews
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A coal miner's bride : the diary of Anetka Kaminska
by Susan Campbell Bartoletti.
New York : Scholastic, c2000.
219 p. : ill., maps ; 20 cm.

Annotations:

A diary account of thirteen-year-old Anetka's life in Poland in 1896, immigration to America, marriage to a coal miner, widowhood, and happiness in finally finding her true love.

Best Books:

Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
Children's Catalog, Nineteenth Edition, 2006 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
Middle and Junior High School Library Catalog, Ninth Edition, 2005 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
Middle And Junior High School Library Catalog, Supplement to the Eighth Edition, 2001 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, 2001 ; National Council for the Social Studies NCSS; United States

Curriculum Tools:

Link to Discussion Guides at Scholastic

Reading Measurement Programs:


Accelerated Reader" "
Interest Level Middle Grade" "
Book Level 5.5" "
Accelerated Reader Points 6" "
Accelerated Vocabulary" "

Lexile, MetaMetrics, Inc.
Lexile Measure 800

Reading Counts-Scholastic
Interest Level 6-8
Reading Level 6
Title Point Value 11
Lexile Measure 800

Reviews:

Hazel Rochman (Booklist, April 1, 2000 (Vol. 96, No. 15))
The history is dramatic: in 1896 Anetka Kaminska, 13, must leave her Polish village for an arranged marriage with a coal miner in Lattimer, Pennsylvania. Her husband, who was married once before, doesn't love her, and when he's killed in a mining accident a few months after the wedding, she's left to care for his three small daughters and take in boarders to survive. The appalling working conditions in the mines are an integral part of the story and so is the labor struggle for change. Always there's the racism by "Americans" toward the "undesirable foreigners," which culminates in the Lattimer Massacre in which 19 miners are killed. The lively young union organizer, Leon Nasevich, who proves to be Anetka's true love, is just too perfect, but their teasing relationship adds romance to the grim story. The real problem with this book is the format. There's no doubt that the diary entries from the young person's viewpoint make the story immediate and accessible; but it's totally ridiculous that Anetka, who works like a mule caring for the kids and the boarders, and who regrets that she can't find a minute to write a letter to her beloved grandmother in Poland, would keep a daily diary of her life. Bartoletti's long historical note authenticates the account of the immigration, the labor struggle, the massacre, and the role of strong women. And there's a selection of photos to reinforce the history. Category: Older Readers. 2000, Scholastic, $10.95. Gr. 5-9.

Carol Raker Collins, Ph.D. (Children's Literature)
The fictional account of a thirteen-year-old Polish girl's immigration to America in 1896 is based upon the political and social turmoil in Poland and the economic and social hardships of the coal mining life in Lattimer, Pennsylvania. The difficulties faced by Anetka Kaminska are told in an immediate, poignant story put down in the girl's diary. She buys the blank book though it is considered frivolous and even dangerous since she plans to write in Polish, a language now forbidden by the Russian Czar. Motherless and living with a young brother and grandmother in Sadowka, she expects her father to return to Poland from the coalmines of Pennsylvania. His letter calling for her to come and marry a coal miner is a shocking turn of events. How Anetka copes during and after the loveless marriage is particularized in telling detail. The diary ends soon after the Lattimer massacre of 1897 and with Anetka and Leon Nasevich, her true love, finally united. Photos and drawings of Lattimer and Poland, a Polish glossary, a recipe for potato dumplings, a coal mining song, maps, and notes from the author are all included. This is par of the "Dear America" series. 2000, Scholastic, $10.95. Ages 12 up.

Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2000 (Vol. 68, No. 7))
Bartoletti has added a nuanced tale to the Dear America series with this diary of a 14-year-old from Sadowka, Poland,1896. Annetka lives with her beloved grandmother and small brother; her mother is dead, and her father has gone to Pennsylvania to work in the anthracite mines. She loves the place where she is, but all that changes when her father says she will come to America to be a bride for one of his co-workers. Annetka goes, in the company of a rakish young fellow named Leon who gets her and her brother out of the country. Annetka's diary continues through the backbreaking labor of the coal miner's wife, for she discovers her new husband is a widower with three small children. The struggles of laundry, cooking, baking, and making ends meet in Lattimer, Pennsylvania are clearly delineated, along with Annetka's joy in beekeeping, in making scented oils, and in coaxing her three small stepchildren to love her. Leon and others urge the workers to strike as they fight not only the filthy and dangerous mines but also the vilification of those who call them foreigners and worse. The story culminates in the Lattimer massacre of September 10, 1897 where unarmed workers were fired upon and at least 19 died. The whole is full of Annetka's spirit, her vivid use of language in snatches of her native Polish as well as her wonderful English metaphors, like kisses "to stick her feet to the floor." (glossary, historical photographs, maps, recipe) 2000, Scholastic, $10.95. Category: Historical fiction. Ages 9 to 14. © 2000 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.

A. Braga (Parent Council, September 2001 (Vol. 9, No. 1))
This is a really good book, very real, yet not exaggerated to the point of becoming boring. A girl from Russian-occupied Poland comes to America as part of an arranged marriage in this tale of courage, hard work, and determination. It's a slice of American life in the Pennsylvania coal-mining country. A good gift choice. Part of the "Dear America" series. 2000, Scholastic, $10.95. Ages 10 to 12.

Amber Coronado (The Lorgnette - Heart of Texas Reviews (Vol. 13, No. 4))
This is a great addition to the Dear America series! Thirteen-year-old Anetka is being forced by her father to leave 1896 Poland and go to Pennsylvania to become a coal miner's bride. In exchange, the coal miner will pay for her and her family's passage to America. Anetka is furious with her father, but does not have a choice. Once married, Anetka sets about to be a wife and mother to her husband's three children. Unfortunately, her husband only married her to take care of him and his children and is still in love with his dead wife. This makes life hard on Anetka because he keeps reminding her she is not like his first wife. She does not grow to love him but does care deeply for him. She does grow to love his three girls. Surprisingly, a young soldier from her village in Poland moves near her and she secretly falls in love with him but is ever faithful to her husband. In her journal, she tells of the poverty and death among the miners and of the courage of many men and women to stand up to the owners the mine that treat their employees like slaves. She can only imagine the pain of losing to the mine someone she cares for until after only a few months of marriage, the black wagon shows up on her doorstep with her dead husband in back. Now she must figure out a way of supporting herself and the girls, who are now her daughters. This is when the young soldier makes his feelings for her known and after mourning her husband as she should, she begins her relationship with the man. Their love and marriage lasted until their deaths. This book was very accurate not only in events but in the feelings of the people and the situations that impacted everyone's lives. A must read! Grades 6 and up. 2000, Scholastic, 219p, $10.95. Ages 11 up.

Lucy Schall (VOYA, April 2001 (Vol. 24, No. 1))
When thirteen-year-old Anetka Kaminska purchases a blank book with the money she earns from selling black pig bristles to the local cobbler, the gypsy seller tells her that the purchase is unfeminine. Anetka wants to write her own thoughts in Polish, an act forbidden by the czar's army occupying her country in 1896. Bartoletti clearly establishes her heroine as a hardworking, intelligent girl able to discover herself despite a father who arranges her marriage to secure his family's passage to America and a government that denies her expression. Leon Nasevich, a young soldier and ultimately her true love, rescues Anetka from a Russian sergeant trying to take advantage of her. He accompanies Anetka and her little brother to America, establishes himself as a mule driver and union organizer in the coal mines, and finally marries Anetka, when at fourteen years old, she is widowed with three stepchildren. Leon's and Anetka's patience, hard work, and independence carve their fates in an exciting and dangerous world. Bartoletti constructs this entry in the Dear America series with the facts and inspiring spirit of her two previous nonfiction books, Growing Up in Coal Country (Houghton Mifflin, 1996) and Kids on Strike! (Houghton Mifflin, 1999/VOYA February 2000), with similar details of daily life and insight into the workers' growing feelings of independence. The book also explains the Pennsylvania coal strikes that united multi-ethnic communities. Anetka Kaminska, forced to marry for duty before she can figure out love, will fascinate the young female audience. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2000, Scholastic, 219p. PLB, $10.95. Ages 11 to 15.

Series:

Dear America

Subjects:

Immigrants Fiction.
Polish Americans Fiction.
Coal miners Fiction.
Diaries Fiction.
LanguageCall NumberLCCNDewey DecimalISBN/ISSN
English (eng) PZ7.B2844 Co 2000
99029864 [Fic]
0439053862 (alk. paper)
9780439053860
9780439053860
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