Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 9 to 13
- Grade: 4 to 8
The 1919 Winnipeg General Strike was a key moment in Canadian history when demands of workers and returning soldiers all played out in the bloody streets of Winnipeg. The governing elite condemned the strike organizers as "Bolsheviks" and unleashed waves of violence. The country hasn't fully healed since.
City on Strike is a riveting middle-grade fiction focusing on a 13-year-old boy and his younger sister, part of a poor but hardworking immigrant family in Winnipeg's North End. And like so many others, it's a family that gets drawn into the chaos that terrible spring.
"History often repeats itself " author Harriet Zaidman says "In 1919 more than 30,000 people in Winnipeg went on strike. Those in authority wanted to maintain their power and profits, so they spread lies and stirred up racism to create divisions in society. Today there are still those who make harmful statements about different groups. These negative comments prevent society from being united and making advances. Canadians need to know the history of the Strike, which teaches us that we need to look behind the message, to make choices that unify society and give everyone a chance to fulfill their potential."
About the author
Is an author and former teacher-librarian who writes for CM: Review of Materials and The Winnipeg Free Press. Harriet lives in Winnipeg.
"City on Strike is an engaging contribution to the young adult literature about this episode in Canadian history.
— CM Magazine
"First-time novelist Zaidman vividly depicts the racist, anti-Semitic, and anti-immigrant views of Winnipeg's elite, who felt justified in denying work and a living wage to those unlike themselves. She quietly yet powerfully demonstrates how various news outlets portrayed the same story differently based on ownership and audience. . . City on Strike is a well-written and well-researched novel that will engage students and provoke discussion about workers' rights, immigration, and objective journalism, then and now."
— Quill & Quire
"The novel successfully deals with topics of social justice, fight against racism and fake news, and for a democratic society. It is important to teach new generations about the General Strike and the role Eastern Europeans Jews played in it. Harriet (Zaidman) is a talented writer and an inspiring educator."
— Winnipeg's Jewish Post & News
"This novel has the look of a book for youth 10+ but the "plus" definitely includes all of us who yearn to know more of our Canadian history. Although I was born in Winnipeg and my four grandparents lived in the north end, no one ever mentioned the Winnipeg General Strike and its significance for Winnipeg, Canada and the world. It was the only strike of its kind in Canada and this thoroughly researched and intimate account of a life-changing event tells the story of one family's attempts to live on the meagre wages paid by the wealthy owners and condoned by Winnipeg politicians. There's just something about Winnipeg that made this the site of a worker's rebellion and if you're from there, you'll know what I mean. Written from the point of view of children and interlaced with Yiddish expressions, this re-creation of a life-changing period in our history is told in the clear and hopeful voice of Jack and Nellie and their older sister Fanny.
A must-read for ages 10 — 110."
— The Senior Times
"Zaidman presents a very realistic picture of this major event, not only in the history of Winnipeg but in the history of Canada. . . This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Winnipeg Strike and this book would be a good way to bring it to the attention of Canadian history students at the elementary and junior high levels."
— Resource Links
"Highly recommended for both school and community library General Fiction collections for young readers ages 10-18, City on Strike by Harriet Zaidman is a riveting middle grade novel."
— Midwest Book Review
"Set in 1919 in the complex background of the Winnipeg general strike, City on Strike is a wonderfully exciting read and an important new book."
— Beryl Young, author of A Boy From Acadie: Romeo LeBlanc's Journey to Rideau Hall.
"City on Strike is rich with historical details and realistic characters—the past is alive and well on these pages! It's an important story of bravery and determination.'
— Arthur Slade, Governor-General's Award Winner of Dust.