Digging a Hole to Heaven Coal Miner Boys by S. D. Nelson


Digging a Hole to Heaven Coal Miner Boys by S. D. Nelson

At twelve years old, Connall has already worked in the coal mines for two years. He spends his days deep underground with his faithful mule, Angel, carting loads of coal back and forth between the coal seams and the main shaft, where elevators take the coal up to the surface. Each day for Connall is much the same as it was for thousands of young boys who worked in coal mines, under appalling and unsafe conditions, during the American Industrial Revolution in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. After receiving a rudimentary education provided by coal mining companies, boys as young as eight would begin working eight to twelve hours per day. Many of them would work for those companies, earning barely enough to live in company housing, for their entire lives. In a style that mixes archival images and original artwork, acclaimed author and illustrator S.D. Nelson gives voice to the poverty, grueling labour and dangerous conditions experienced by child labourers across our nation in the past. While Connall's story is fictional, he represents the very real experiences of many young children and teens of the time. This book includes an author's note, glossary of terms, selected timeline, endnotes and a bibliography.


The narrative comes alive with colorful descriptions, such as stout timbers that groan and a massive mountain...forever leaning in upon itself. Beautiful textured paintings rendered in the style of 19th-century Plains Indian drawings, with acrylic on wood panels, accompany the narrative. --Toby Rajput, National Louis University, Skokie, IL School Library Journal (09/01/2014)

About the Author

S. D. Nelson is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in the Dakotas. He is the award-winning author and illustrator of numerous children's books, including Black Elk's Vision, Gift Horse, Coyote Christmas and The Star People.

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Book Info


64 pages


S. D. Nelson
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Publication date

1st September 2014



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