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Children's Nonfiction Post-confederation (1867-)

Factory Girl

by (author) Barbara Greenwood

Kids Can Press
Initial publish date
Feb 2007
Post-Confederation (1867-), Modern, Girls & Women
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Feb 2007
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Feb 2007
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 9 to 14
  • Grade: 4 to 9
  • Reading age: 9 to 14


At the dingy, overcrowded Acme Garment Factory, Emily Watson stands for eleven hours a day clipping threads from blouses. Every time the boss passes, he shouts at her to snip faster. But if Emily snips too fast, she could ruin the garment and be docked pay. If she works too slowly, she will be fired. She desperately needs this job. Without the four dollars a week it brings, her family will starve. When a reporter arrives, determined to expose the terrible conditions in the factory, Emily finds herself caught between the desperate immigrant girls with whom she works and the hope of change. Then tragedy strikes, and Emily must decide where her loyalties lie.

Emily's fictional experiences are interwoven with non-fiction sections describing family life in a slum, the fight to improve social conditions, the plight of working children then and now, and much more. Rarely seen archival photos accompany this story of the past as only Barbara Greenwood can tell it.

About the author

Barbara Greenwood is an award-winning author whose books include Gold Rush Fever, The Last Safe House and A Pioneer Thanksgiving. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.

Barbara Greenwood's profile page


  • Short-listed, Red Cedar Award
  • Winner, Notable Books for a Global Society, International Reading Association
  • Short-listed, Golden Oak Award, Ontario Library Association
  • Winner, Best Books for Kids and Teens, Canadian Children's Book Centre
  • Short-listed, Silver Birch Award, Ontario Library Association
  • Short-listed, Norma Fleck Award, Canadian Children's Book Centre
  • Short-listed, Book of the Year, ForeWord Magazine
  • Winner, Best Bets Non-Fiction, Ontario Library Association
  • Winner, International Book Award, The Society of School Librarians International

Librarian Reviews

Factory Girl

Through her characteristic presentation which alternates between two literary forms – fiction and non-fiction – Barbara Greenwood’s Factory Girl recounts the plight suffered by working children in North American cities during the early 1900s. The fictional story gives us 12-year-old Emily Watson, a bright student with great potential and big dreams, who has to leave school to work as a factory girl. The non-fiction text discusses aspects of the historical context in which Emily’s story occurs. Readers won’t be confused as to which parts of the book are fact or fiction. Factual information is preceded by Emily’s story and is coupled with archival photographs documenting slums and child workers. Vertical collages crafted from the photographs lend the outer edges of pages a subtle decorative touch. A timeline, glossary and index are included. Greenwood’s use of a fictional character personalizes the topic of child labour, allowing readers to easily relate to it. The author connects today’s children to their counterparts in the past and offers them plenty of food for thought, particularly where childhood, their quality of life, and education are concerned.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Spring 2007. Vol.30 No.2.

Factory Girl

Barbara Greenwood recounts the plight of North American working children during the early 1900s, using a blend of fiction and non-fiction. The fictional story details the life of 12-year-old Emily Watson who leaves school to work as a factory girl. The non-fiction text discusses the historical aspects of Emily’s story. Includes archival photos.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. 2008.

Other titles by Barbara Greenwood