A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this book takes place in 1901 in rural Sellerton, Ontario. In the course of the novel, President McKinley is shot and killed, which causes Mable to reflect on her own feelings over her father's death. Also, there's a description of women being exploited as workers at a cheesemaking factory, their ensuing protests, and their arrests. One woman is pushed, hits her head, and becomes unconscious. There are also very innocent flirtations between girls and boys in class. This book serves as a enjoyable introduction to turn-of-the-century history, fictionalized for ages 10+.
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What's the story?
Mable and her sister Viola move to Sellerton, Ontario in 1901 when Viola is hired to work as the local teacher. Mable is to support her sister and help in the classroom with the younger children. They board at a dairy farm and quickly become topics of conversation in town. Some have reservations about a young female teacher. While her sister is pious, Mable is adventuresome and becomes friendly with a suffragette who lives by herself. When she learns of this woman's plan to help the exploited female workers at a local cheese factory, she wants to help, too.
Is it any good?
Told through a diary, letters, poems, and a character-written story, MABLE RILEY presents a strong, likeable character. Though the story is told in old-fashioned prose, Mable remains very relatable to tweens today. Like many 14-year-old girls, Mable is still learning about herself, her world, and how to face her problems -- all this making for an interesting story for young readers.