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  • Susan Stoderl

Shh! Secrets Buildings Hold for Middle-Grade NYC Kids

From Sophia Meets Pedro, Prequel to Mission 1: All in a Day's Work

Chapter 6 Excerpt | Part 2 of 2

Fountain or Planter
Planter now. Horse or Human Fountain Then?
Uprise of the 20,000 (Clara Lemlich)
Sophia Handed this Book to Pedro
Jefferson Market Library
Children's Reading Room. Grim Doors!

“And look at this planter. It was a fountain, but nobody knows whether it was for people or horses.”

“I say horses,” said Sophia.

Mr. O’D escorted Sophia and Pedro up the front stone stairway and into the main lobby. He stopped outside the Children’s Reading Room door. “I’ll leave you now and go on up to the Adult Reading Room. I’ll be waiting for you here when it’s time to leave.”

Sophia and Pedro entered through the immense dark wood doors. “These doors are just plain grim,” said Pedro.

“They are, but so was the Court. The accused were sometimes innocent, without representation, and with inconsistent fines and jail time. This room held the Night Court and the Magistrate Court was where the Adult Reading Room is now,” said Sophia.

The large room was well-lit by overhanging light fixtures and natural light streaming through large clear windows on the outside wall of the library. Bookcases beneath the windows and lining all other walls of the room housed various types of books for children of different ages. There were tables and chairs, plus child-size sofas placed around area rugs to be used by the children for story hour and playtime. An old-fashioned wooden card catalog was now used to feature books.

In the New Books section, a display board featured additional content for the book being read this afternoon. Sophia stood in front of the display and pulled a book out of her backpack. “This is today’s book.” She handed it to Pedro to look at. “Nana gave it to me because her mother was in the Scottish Lace and Textile Workers’ Union. Do you know what lace workers were called? Twisthands.”

“That’s funny, but if you think about it, it makes sense. When someone crochets lace, there’s a lot of hand twisting.”

“True. Today’s book is about a woman who organized a huge protest against the horrible working conditions in garment factories. She called upon her fellow immigrant shirtwaist makers to strike for decent wages and safer working conditions. Most of the strikers were young women and girls. I’ve already read it, so you can follow along when the librarian reads. The illustrations are cool.”


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