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Angels in the Dust

Angels in the Dust

3.0 2
by Margot Theis Theis Raven, Roger Essley (Illustrator)

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A young girl growing up in the heart of the Dust Bowl in the 1930s witnesses the people of her community becoming true friends, joining together like angels to help life go on. Beautiful pastel artwork illustrates this heartwarming tale based on a true story.


A young girl growing up in the heart of the Dust Bowl in the 1930s witnesses the people of her community becoming true friends, joining together like angels to help life go on. Beautiful pastel artwork illustrates this heartwarming tale based on a true story.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
With its heartland setting, simile-laden prose and uplifting message about weathering hard times, Raven's debut book has much in common with a country-western song. The narrator, Annie, flashes back to her girlhood in the Oklahoma Panhandle during the '30s, when dust storms and drought devastated the land. Annie uses the dust-covered surfaces as a kind of chalkboard to teach her younger sister how to read; their mother smiles and says, "You make me think nothing's so bad that it isn't good for something." Annie hangs on to her mother's words after tragedy hits harder: the mother dies of "dust pneumonia"; the crops fail; the house burns down. But neighbors band together to give Annie's family money for new shelter, and Annie never loses her optimism and pluck. Essley (Reunion) blends dramatic landscapes of ominous dust clouds and cracked earth with affecting, closely focused renderings of the characters. His pastels of valiant Annie squaring her shoulders reinforce the text's consciously inspirational message that adversity can always be overcome. Ages 5-8. (Feb.)
Children's Literature - Donna Brumby
Great-grandma Annie is a good storyteller. She remembers her childhood in the once bountiful Oklahoma now turned harsh and hopeless by days of drought and dust storms. The author and illustrator have combined their talents to bring genuine life to a time and place, the 1930's Dust Bowl, that many of today's children might have a difficult time comprehending. The adversity and sorrow of the prolonged crisis, including the death of Annie's mother, are not omitted, but the courage and resourcefulness of a loving family and caring community prevent the account from becoming overwhelmingly tragic. This story, with its fitting pastel illustrations, will undoubtedly raise questions and interest in an era that is not generally covered in materials for young children.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 2-4Dark brown endpapers and the colors of earth and dust seem to seep out of the full-page illustrations as Great-grandma Annie tells of growing up in the 1930s in Oklahoma. As Annie and her sister watch, dirt fills the air, covers the fields, and has to be battled indoors and out. "Dust pneumonia" brings death to their mother and Annie takes over the housekeeping. She finds a way to water her vegetable garden despite the drought and shares the produce with struggling neighbors. A fire destroys their house and leaves them without resources. They survive, Annie remembers, by hard work, by the love between father and daughters, and by the good will of the neighbors they had helped. "Nothing's so bad that it isn't good for something," Annie's mother once said, and her gentle and hopeful spirit lives through her children. This well-told tale of the hard times and grinding poverty of the dust bowl is good reading for any study of the Depression era or of America's past. The realistic paintings dramatically illustrate the events described. Pair this with books like Judith Hendershot's In Coal Country (Knopf, 1987) or Faith Ringgold's Tar Beach (Crown, 1991) to show how families can strengthen their ties to one another and find courage in troubled economic times.Shirley Wilton, Ocean County College, Toms River, NJ
Kirkus Reviews
Raven's first book for children explores life in the American Dust Bowl of the 1930s as "Great-grandma Annie" shares her memories of childhood. Annie lived on an Oklahoma wheat farm, "where the land reaches out straight as a handshake." When the dust storms begin, forcing dirt through the boards and into the family's small house, Annie helps her sister, Bessie, write her name in the dust. That act makes Mama think that "nothing's so bad that it isn't good for something"—the theme of the book. After Mama dies of dust pneumonia, Annie assumes adult responsibilities: keeping house; soothing Bessie's fears with tales of how Mama, an angel, keeps watch over them; and growing a garden with the aid of an inspired tin-can water pipe. When their dried-to-tinder house burns to the ground, neighbors—also hard- pressed—pledge small sums to help the family get on their feet. An author's note fills in the historical facts, while Essley's full-bleed paintings beautifully capture the reality of a hard- but-hopeful life in a world gone to wind-blown grit.

Product Details

Troll Communications L.L.C.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.26(w) x 10.50(h) x 0.11(d)
AD650L (what's this?)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

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Angels in the Dust 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago