Posted by: Kathy Temean | September 20, 2020

Book Giveaway: STEADFAST: Frances Perkins, Champion of Workers’ Rights by Jennifer Merz

Author/illustrator Jennifer J. Merz has a new picture book titled, STEADFAST: Frances Perkins, Champion of Workers’ Rights. Jennifer has agreed to share a book with one lucky winner. All you have to do to get in the running is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you do to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter, reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. Thanks for helping Jennifer!


Frances Perkins gasped in disbelief when she visited a factory and saw the horrific conditions that workers endured. Moved by the injustice, she felt compelled to help, setting her on a path of social work.

But, when Frances witnessed New York City’s terrifying Triangle Factory fire in 1911, her desire to assist the American worker transformed into a lifelong mission. Determined to fix the problems that led to the tragedy, Frances worked to change a catastrophically broken system at a time when women were discouraged from speaking up, let alone having careers. She saw the potential for radical workplace reform, if she could persuade her male colleagues to listen to her. Rather than shrink from challenges, she followed her beloved grandmother’s advice to embrace life’s opportunities and walk through open doors. In truth, Frances kicked them open along the way.

With courage and integrity, she became the first woman ever to serve in a U.S. Presidential Cabinet, creating an enduring legacy. As Secretary of Labor, she was the force behind the New Deal and Social Security, vast programs that protect American workers to this day, including a minimum wage, a forty-hour workweek, and an end to child labor. This is the inspiring story of a heroic trailblazer. She’s the most important woman you likely haven’t heard of – yet.

In her third picture book, writer/illustrator and Children’s Choice award winner Jennifer J. Merz introduces readers to the bold visions of Frances Perkins. This book will delight children and parents alike with gorgeous, handcrafted, cut-paper illustrations on every page and engaging, yet sensitive, prose.

Features fully annotated back matter, providing a perfect opportunity to learn more about this shining female role model and her steadfast fight for justice. Empowering, inspiring, and informative, this picture book biography should not be missed.


The seeds of Steadfast were planted when I was doing my MFA in Illustration at the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC. It was 2011 and F.I.T., with its long connection to textiles, was commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, a tragic workplace disaster that Frances Perkins witnessed as a young social worker.

I created a handcrafted collage for that Triangle Anniversary, a work that spoke to the 1911 narrative. It incorporated the fabrics and trimmings of my own textile background. I used cut and torn papers, laces and trims, to make a shirtwaist collage to honor the 146 workers, mostly girls and young women, who lost their lives in that fire.

Little did I know that my participation in this event would ultimately lead to my book on Frances Perkins! As I researched, whom did I find – who found me – but Frances! She was everywhere I looked: pushing for workers’ rights, women’s rights, safety reforms, abolishment of child labor, and immigration reform. She later became the first woman ever in a Presidential Cabinet and the force behind the New Deal and Social Security. Why had I never heard about this woman? Why had so many people not heard about this remarkable woman?

I was bitten by the Frances bug and she wouldn’t let go. I needed to create a picture book on this American hero and role model. I had to get the word out to children. Children, girls in particular, needed to know the empowering, inspiring story that is Frances Perkins. Her strength of character, her integrity, her determined nature – all beckoned me to create this book.

Of course, the path to publication was not as straightforward as I’ve just described. My book started as Sew Strong, about the conditions leading up to the Triangle Factory fire and the subsequent groundswell for change. My agent at the time was excited to share this version with many of the major New York publishing houses. Many editors took my dummy and manuscript into acquisition meetings, but ultimately, those earlier versions didn’t get picked up. It was only when I found Frances and her incredible story of steadfast achievement that I knew I was truly onto something special. Hers was a story that needed to be told. I continued to work.

Quite by accident, I discovered the Frances Perkins Center in Damariscotta, Maine. I met Tomlin, Frances’ grandson and remaining living relative. I met Sarah, the fantastic Board President who read and approved my manuscript. I was invited to the film premiere of Summoned, a documentary about Frances Perkins created by esteemed PBS filmmaker Mick Caouette. All the while, I kept creating: writing, editing, revising, sketching, and cutting buckets and buckets of collage papers.

Steadfast, praised by reviewers, was released Sept. 1st. It’s available at and through the Frances Perkins Center. It’s also on Amazon. Art prints and cards will also be available soon, both at the Frances Perkins Center and on my website.

This has been an incredible journey, and I’m delighted to have shared it with you today. Thank you, Kathy, for inviting me to share my personal book journey with your audience. If anyone has any questions, please visit and leave me a message. I’d be happy to hear from you. And, of course, if you’d like me to sign a copy of my book to you, I’d be happy to do that, too.

All best! Jenn


Winner of the Children’s Choice Award, Jennifer J. Merz is back with her third picture book, an engaging biography on American trailblazer Frances Perkins. With stunning, cut-paper illustrations, STEADFAST: Frances Perkins, Champion of Workers’ Rights will delight and inform children and parents alike.

Previously published by Dutton (That Dancin’ Dolly) and Clarion (Playground Day!), Jenn creates intricate, handcrafted collage illustrations. Inspired by the work of Matisse and Romare Bearden, she builds her pictures using the special papers, fabrics and trims of the textile world that is part of her personal and family history.

Jenn received an MFA in Illustration from the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC. She holds a BA in Studio Art and Elem Ed, and an MA in Art Ed. She enjoys giving author presentations and is a member of the SCBWI, CBIG, and the Author’s Guild.

A longtime resident of Allendale, NJ, Jenn divides her time between the NY-Metro area and the Maine coast. She resides with her husband and their pug. They are the proud parents of two spirited women who, like Frances Perkins, bristle at injustice and walk confidently through open doors. Jenn invites you to learn more at

Jennifer, thank you for sharing your book and journey with us. This is such a great book. Kudos for finding an little known women who made a difference in the lives of working women. The book is great inspiration for children and all the details will hold teachers and parents attention and keep everyone reading. Plus, you did a wonderful job creating the collage illustrations with your expert use of special papers and fabrics. Good luck with the book!

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Thank you, Kathy, for inviting me to share my process on this forum! I’m delighted to share my work with your readers. Stay safe and happy reading! Jenn

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I ADORE Frances Perkins! Such an inspirational figure, so I’m excited to read this picture book. (I also tweeted about this the giveaway, and I’m signed up for email updates.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Susan! Follow me on FB, Instagram, and Twitter for more giveaways! (and if you can’t wait, visit to snag a copy right away!) 😉 All the best,


  3. Looking forward to reading this one, thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You won, Charlotte! Congrats!! Get your address over to Kathy so I can get it to you right away! And don’t forget to let me know if you’d like me to sign it…and to whom! Enjoy! Jenn


  4. Such an important historical figure. I’m looking forward to reading it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is so awesome!! Congrats on this book!! Wonderful!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jennifer, I’m so glad you shined a light on the life of Frances Perkins. Her accomplishments brought life-saving changes and long overdue rights to many! Congratulations on a beautiful book!

    Kathy, I shared on twitter and get your blog daily.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This book looks extraordinary, and such perfect timing now that we are celebrating RBG too. There have been some amazing, strong women doing fantastic things 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Looks like a fantastic book, and I enjoyed learning about Frances Perkins, all the best with your book Jennifer! Thanks Kathy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is the book our children need to be experiencing right now!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Great to see you here, Diana! Thank you for all you are doing to bring the word out on my book and of course, on Frances P!


  9. Wow! That is fascinating! I can’t wait to read about Frances! Love the collage illustrations and all you shared about your journey of writing about Frances. 🙂 Congrats and best wishes!

    Tweeting, Kathy. Thanks for another fun post!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The book sounds fantastic – I can’t wait to read it! Congratulations, Jennifer!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. What a great theme to teach to children! We need more books like this….

    Liked by 1 person

  12. So happy for you! Looking forward to reading your book.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So great to see you here, Adele! Thank you for visiting. Enjoy reading, and painting, too. 😉


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