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Which Side Are You On?

Publishers Weekly

"Writing in the folksy voice of the daughter of a Kentucky coal miner, Lyon (All the Water in the World) tells the story of the genesis of a pro-union song written by Florence Reece (the fictionalized narratorís mother) in 1931. Evoking woodblocks and scratchboard, Cardinaleís (Mr. Mendozaís Paintbrush) hard-edged illustrations provide the taleís momentum and amplify its grittiness. The narrator and her siblings are shown hiding under the bed early on, as bullets zing through the windows and walls of their company home; they are meant for the childrenís father, a miner and union organizer. Dodging bullets, their mother tears a page from a calendar and writes the eponymous song, a rallying cry for oppressed workers ('Donít scab for the bosses./ Donít listen to their lies'); the lyrics appear in ribboned banners throughout, encircling mining tools and rifles. Lyonís storytelling jumps between speech-balloon dialogue and the girlís clipped observations ('This is how the night goes: bullets through the walls, talk under the bed, words on the page'). Itís a high-stakes account of grace under pressure. An afterword provides additional historical context."
- September 19, 2011 

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