Title: The Traveling Camera
Author: Alexandra S. D. Hinrichs
Major Themes: Cameras, Child Labor, Photography, Lewis Hine
Synopsis: Lewis Hine traveled around the United States, taking pictures of children at work to try to end child labor.
The Traveling Camera is an interesting book about a person I never heard of before. This is a picture book for older children. The free-verse text tells a brief story about a man’s work to end injustice, and the vivid, colorful paintings show clearly what was happening.
Lewis Hine traveled all over the United States, taking pictures of children working hard for long hours. He photographed children working in fields, making shoes, and working in cotton mills and coal mines. These children worked extremely hard in situations that were often dangerous. Their work was needed for their families to survive. They grew up in ignorance, often not knowing how to read or even to spell their own names. However, they were usually cheerful!
Several pages at the end of the book tell the story of Lewis Hine and his work. He was hired by the National Child Labor Committee to take pictures of children at work, in hopes that if people actually saw what was happening they would be spurred to do something about it. Because of the way cameras worked in those days (1910s), he couldn’t just take pictures secretly—he had to find ways to get around the foremen who controlled the children.
As history, The Traveling Camera is a well-done book. The illustrations finish the story that is begun by the sparse, poetic text. The indomitable human spirit shines through, even when children had to work harder than they should. I found Lewis Hine’s determination fascinating, even if I don’t agree with completely banning child labor.
I received a review copy of this book from NetGalley, and these are my honest thoughts about it.
WARNING: About halfway through the book, the word “darn” is used.
Listening Level—Ages 5 – 8
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12