Nate Tanner lives in a mansion in Pennsylvania coal country, where his family owns mines. He has plenty of pocket money, a brand-new bicycle, and servants to attend to his needs. But there’s one thing Nate doesn’t have – a friend.
     Nate can’t get along with other boys or stay out of trouble. As the summer of 1897 begins, he’s been kicked out of boarding school and sent home in disgrace. His father is cold and disapproving. His stepmother tries too hard to be nice. And Nate still misses his mother, who died five years ago, when he was seven. The only adult in the family Nate connects with is his grandfather, a Civil War hero who likes to tell war stories and play chess with Nate – but rules the coal company with a strict hand.
     Near the company-owned “patch town” where the mining families live, Nate meets Johnny, an easygoing Polish American boy who works for the Tanners, sorting coal all day in a dark, dirty building called a breaker.
     A friendship begins when Johnny, unaware of Nate’s identity, invites him to play baseball with the breaker boys. In the patch, Nate confronts unpleasant realities about the mining families’ lives. At home, he learns of his own family’s fears about the future of its business.
     And Nate finds himself piling lie on top of lie to keep his identity secret from Johnny, and the friendship secret from his family.
     Meanwhile, the miners are joining a labor union to challenge the owners – and the owners are trying to halt a strike. As Nate’s moment of truth draws near, so does a violent confrontation that will change coal country lives forever.       
 Who were the breaker boys? TBB_breaker.html
 Stephen Crane meets the breaker boys. TBB_Crane.html
 Those Black Diamond Men:  A Tribute TBB_Diamond.html
 Reading guide for teachers.
 The Lattimer Massacre. TBB_Lattimer.html

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