by David Macaulay

In Mill, a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, David Macaulay pays tribute to the historically important mills of 19th-century New England. Using close-up pen-and-ink illustrations, Macaulay thoroughly explains the Yankee ingenuity that went into the elaborate process of running machines that were generated by the flow of water. In the case of this cotton mill in the imaginary town of Wicksbridge, Macaulay also demonstrates how important the mill was to a community's economic and social viability. In one scene, he shows the men and women celebrating the framing of the mill with a festive, barn-raising-style party. Macaulay tracks the mill's history, expertly explaining how all its new fixtures and materials reflect the political and industrial changes in the country. For example, in 1852 the owner sides with his abolitionist wife and shuns the use of "Negro cloth," inexpensive cloth made from slave-picked cotton. Instead he decides to start producing multi-colored, finer fabrics--a decision that leads to the expansion of the mill and the introduction of the steam engine. This is a finely woven offering, filled with technical intricacies and intriguing historical details. But ultimately, Macaulay's Mill is generated by the human story that led to the building of New England's cotton mills - as well as their eventual demise. (Ages 9 and older)

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