Dust

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Overview

SEVEN-YEAR-OLD MATTHEW DISAPPEARS one day on a walk into Horshoe, a dust bowl farm town in Depression-era Saskatchewan. Other children go missing just as a strange man named Abram Harsich appears in town. He dazzles the townspeople with the promises of a rainmaking machine. Only Matthew’s older brother Robert seems to be able to resist Abram’s spell, and to discover what happened to Matthew and the others.

“A remarkably effective sense of atmosphere.”—Kirkus Reviews, Starred

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Overview

SEVEN-YEAR-OLD MATTHEW DISAPPEARS one day on a walk into Horshoe, a dust bowl farm town in Depression-era Saskatchewan. Other children go missing just as a strange man named Abram Harsich appears in town. He dazzles the townspeople with the promises of a rainmaking machine. Only Matthew’s older brother Robert seems to be able to resist Abram’s spell, and to discover what happened to Matthew and the others.

“A remarkably effective sense of atmosphere.”—Kirkus Reviews, Starred

“Choose it for science-fiction fans who are ready for something a little different.”—School Library Journal, Starred

“Beautifully written novel . . . strong character development, an authentic setting, and some genuinely spooky moments.”—VOYA, Starred

A Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature

An ALA Best Books for Young Adults

From the Hardcover edition.

Eleven-year-old Robert is the only one who can help when a mysterious stranger arrives, performing tricks and promising to bring rain, at the same time children begin to disappear from a dust bowl farm town in Saskatchewan in the 1930s.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
During a drought between the two world wars, a stranger uses hypnosis on a small town to get the residents to build a "rainmill" and to induce them to forget about the children who begin to disappear. "Slade sustains the hallucinatory, off-kilter tone of a prolonged nightmare," wrote PW. Ages 10-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
VOYA
Ray Bradbury is a clear influence on this fine tale of quiet horror set in Dust Bowl-era Saskatchewan, with just a touch of H. P. Lovecraft thrown in for good measure. Children have begun to disappear in and around the small prairie town of Horshoe. Oddly, however, their parents seem to forget them far too quickly. Ever since the decidedly odd stranger Abram Harsich came to town, with his magic mirror and his claim that he knows how to build a rain-making machine, people seem to go through their lives in a happy daze. They spend their limited and hard-earned savings on things they cannot really afford and devote many of their working hours to the construction of Harsich's enormous, windmill-like machine. Eleven-year-old Robert Steelgate, whose younger brother Matt is among the missing children, remains suspicious, however, as does Robert's Uncle Alden, an aspiring fantasy writer and one of the few adults who has not signed up to work for Harsich. As Robert becomes increasingly aware of exactly how oddly his parents and the other adults of Horshoe are behaving, a series of mysterious, seemingly supernatural calamities befall Uncle Alden's farm. Then the butterflies appear, and Robert discovers that Harsich might be in contact with things not of this world. This beautifully written novel, most reminiscent perhaps of Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes (Simon & Schuster, 1962), features strong character development, an authentic setting, and some genuinely spooky moments. It could well deserve award consideration. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P M J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2003, Wendy Lamb Books/Random House, 192p,
— Michael Levy
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-In a bone-dry summer during the Great Depression, Matthew, seven, disappears from a small prairie community in Saskatchewan. Soon afterward, Abram Harsich comes to town, and before long nearly everyone has fallen under his mesmerizing spell. He claims to be a meteorologist and enlists local men to help him build a "rainmill" that will bring an end to the crippling drought. Only Matthew's brother Robert, 11, who has visions of his dead Uncle Edmund trying to warn him of something, and bookish Uncle Alden remain skeptical and apart. In time, memories of Matthew fade; then other children disappear. Only Robert really remembers his brother and alone he pieces together what has become of the missing children. Suspense builds to a searing and satisfying climax involving malevolent "traders" from the stars. As odd as this may sound, it is a logical conclusion to a story filled with mystery. The plot is strewn with foreshadowing, portents of evil, and foreboding. In Robert's mind, imagery invoking the desert, ancient Egypt, and the Bible abounds, and the spare prose is poetic in its evocations of both the 20th-century setting and the ancient world. Robert is a strong, stalwart character who loves words and stories, and has some understanding of the universe as mysterious. This unusual, well-written story will definitely exercise readers' imaginations. Choose it for science-fiction fans who are ready for something a little different.-Bruce Anne Shook, Mendenhall Middle School, Greensboro, NC Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In this mesmerizing variation of the "stranger comes to town" plot, a Saskatchewan farming community falls under the spell of a mysterious visitor. Only 11-year-old Robert sees through the smoke and mirrors when the newcomer, Mr. Abram, promises to end the area’s drought if the town helps him build a rainmill. Robert’s younger brother, Matthew, disappeared some months earlier, and after the arrival of Mr. Abram, several other children do, too, but the adults quickly become oblivious to the loss. Robert, who immerses himself whenever possible in adventure stories, eventually tries to rescue his brother and break the hold of the devil-like Abram. Magic enters the story in the form of butterflies, frozen statues, and a dust-like substance connected to the soul. Well-chosen imagery, skillfully crafted sentences, and a remarkably effective sense of atmosphere distinguish Slade’s work. Although the two differ in setting and subject, Dust resembles last year’s Tribes in its originality as well as its deft execution. (Fiction. 11+)
Booklist - Frances Bradburn
Calling up Ray Bradbury's 1962 classic Something Wicked This Way Comes and the legend of the immortal soulless wanderer, Slade's haunting story shows the triumph of imperfect hope over manifest evil.
School Library Journal - Bruce Anne Shook
Suspense builds to a searing and satisfying climax involving malevolent "traders" from the stars. As odd as this may sound, it is a logical conclusion to a story filled with mystery. The plot is strewn with foreshadowing, portents of evil, and foreboding. In Robert's mind, imagery invoking the desert, ancient Egypt, and the Bible abounds, and the spare prose is poetic in its evocations of both the 20th-century setting and the ancient world.
Mail - Globe And
Sparklingly original . . . heartbreakingly beautiful . . . a climax that almost takes one’s breath away.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780440229766
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 10/12/2004
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 192
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 4.25 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Arthur Slade is the author of five novels for young adults. Dust is his second novel to appear in the U.S. The author lives in Saskatoon, Canada.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

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