for Mary Smith
by Andrea U'Ren
What did people do before alarm clocks were common? Andrea U’Ren’s picture book sheds some light on a question one wouldn’t necessarily think to ask but that has a fascinating answer. Mary Smith was the “knocker-up” in her town. Rising before dawn, she went from home to home awakening folks such as the baker, the train conductor, laundry maids, and even the mayor by shooting dried peas at their windows. “TINK!...TOC....PLIK PLOK!” Pea shooter in hand, Mary strides purposefully through the morning in U’ren’s entertaining and informative story that ends with an unexpectedly humorous twist. A black-and-white photograph of the real Mary Smith, taken in 1927, prefaces the text. U’Ren’s illustrations depict her subject wonderfully well from varying perspectives. The illustrations are slightly comic while capturing a sense of bustling town life in the early twentieth century. Highly Commended, 2004 Charlotte Zolotow Award (Ages 4–8)
CCBC Choices 2004 . © Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2004. Used with permission.
Time to get up!
Did you ever wonder how people woke up in time for school
or work in the days before alarm clocks? In the early twentieth century, townspeople in England hired "knocker-ups" like Mary Smith for a few pence a week. Mary Smith traveled through predawn streets armed with a peashooter and a pocket watch, waking her clients at whatever hour they requested by plinking dried peas at their bedroom windows.
In rollicking words and pictures, Andrea U’Ren re-creates one busy morning in the life of her intrepid true-life subject – a morning when Mary Smith helps her town start its day in timely fashion, only to receive a rude awakening when she comes home. Could it be that the knocker-up’s own daughter has been sleeping in? Mary Smith is a 2004 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.
Publisher description retrieved from Google Books.