Review of Thanks to Frances Perkins: Fighter for Workers' Rights

Thanks to Frances Perkins: Fighter for Workers’ Rights
by Deborah Hopkinson; illus. by Kristy Caldwell
Primary, Intermediate   Peachtree    40 pp.    g
8/20    978-1-68263-136-2    $18.99

Not only was workers’ rights advocate and public servant Frances Perkins (1880–1965) the first woman to serve in a presidential cabinet, she also improved the welfare of men, women, and children in the U.S. for generations. Over the course of her career, she fought tirelessly to increase workplace safety, reduce working hours, establish a minimum wage and unemployment insurance, and, most notably during her tenure as FDR’s Secretary of Labor, institute our system of Social Security. Hopkinson uses Social Security as a framing device, beginning the text by posing two questions to modern readers (“How many years will it be until you turn sixty-two?” and “What year will that be?”) and ending with a “Thanks, Frances!” In between, ­Hopkinson provides a broad overview of her subject’s life, with the picture-book biography mostly highlighting a few seminal events that shaped Perkins’s work ethic and determination. Caldwell’s realistically drawn digital illustrations feature circular vignettes that occasionally depict additional accomplishments not covered in the text. The pastel color palette featuring teal and rose gold has an old-­fashioned vibe, enhanced by period details. Back matter includes an author’s note, a reading list, a bibliography, and source notes. ­Follow up with Kathleen Krull’s more thorough account for slightly older readers, The Only Woman in the Photo (rev. 3/20), illustrated by Alexandra Bye.

From the November/December 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Cynthia K. Ritter
Cynthia K. Ritter

Cynthia K. Ritter is managing editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She earned a master's degree in children's literature from Simmons University.

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