Dust to Eat: Drought and Depression in the 1930s

Dust to Eat: Drought and Depression in the 1930s

by Michael L. Cooper
     
 


The 1930s in America will always be remembered for twin disasters-the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. Michael L. Cooper takes readers through this tumultuous period, beginning with the 1929 stock market crash that ushered in the Great Depression and continuing with the severe drought in the Midwest, known as the Dust Bowl. He chronicles the everyday struggle… See more details below

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Overview


The 1930s in America will always be remembered for twin disasters-the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. Michael L. Cooper takes readers through this tumultuous period, beginning with the 1929 stock market crash that ushered in the Great Depression and continuing with the severe drought in the Midwest, known as the Dust Bowl. He chronicles the everyday struggle for survival by those who lost everything, as well as the mass exodus westward to California on fabled Route 66. The crisis also served as a turning point in American domestic policy, prompting the establishment of programs, such as welfare and Social Security, that revolutionized the role of the federal government. Vivid personal anecdotes from figures such as John Steinbeck and Woody Guthrie, and an extensive selection of photographs by Dorothea Lange and others, illuminate the individuals who faced poverty, illness, and despair as they coped with this extraordinary challenge. Endnotes, bibliography, Internet resources, index.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"lots of stunning black-and-white archival photos and clear, spacious text that draws on eloquent eyewitness reports...excellent historical account." BOOKLIST Booklist, ALA

"particularly adept...opening windows to a variety of experiences...well-chosen photograph[s] ...should pique adolescents' curiosity about this bleak period." BCCB Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"the text's strength is the very human face it puts on the overwhelming tragedy of the Dust Bowl" SLJ, starred School Library Journal, Starred

"attractive...artistic...the sepia cover sets a historic tone...does a good job of raising the issue of discrimination" VOYA VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)

Children's Literature
The dual disasters of the Great Depression and the black blizzards of the Dust Bowl in the 1930s cause unimaginable suffering and alter the course of American history. Today's welfare and Social Security programs are a direct result of these tragic events. The stock market crash of 1929 marks the beginning of a ten-year economic crisis fueled even further by drought and excessive farming that reduces the prairies of the Great Plains to dry desert. On one day alone in 1934, a dust storm carries 350 million tons of dirt two thousand miles eastward. Even ships three hundred miles out into the Atlantic are covered with brown prairie dirt falling like snow from the sky. Millions of families are forced to leave their farms and ranches to live in old automobiles, boxcars, or on the streets; famed Route 66 is flooded with desperate people looking for salvation in the fields and orchards of California. Cooper conveys a sense of their plight by incorporating the no nonsense lyrics and music of songwriter Woody Guthrie, a young Oklahoma musician who travels to California to observe the tragedy firsthand. This compelling tale of ordinary people existing in unimaginable conditions is made even more poignant with inclusion of Dorothea Lange's superb black and white photographs. These put a very real human face on the despair and deprivation of many poor souls. Bibliographic information encourages additional study opportunities. 2004, Clarion Books, Ages 8 to 12.
—Francine Thomas
VOYA
In many ways, these two books about the dust bowl offer the same information. Both address the subject chronologically, starting with the very first dust storms, crop failure, the migration to California, and finally the end of the drought and of the Depression. Many of the same photos appear in both books, and they both provide almost exactly the same resources. Upon closer scrutiny, however, there are marked differences. Shorter and written at an easier level, Dust to Eat is the more attractive of the two books. The layout is more artistic, the photos are reproduced better, and the sepia cover sets a historic tone for the volume. The introduction confirms this emphasis with its nod to two creative byproducts of the dust bowl: author John Steinbeck and photographer Dorothea Lange, whose photographs appear in both books. In its content, this book does a good job of raising the issue of discrimination, mainly against the "Okies" who migrated to California, but also as a general theme. Part of The Way People Live series, Life During the Dust Bowl is more formula driven in both format and content. The layout is consistent with most series titles and gives this book the same appeal that an encyclopedia might have. Boxed text containing anecdotal information about things such as laundry, party lines, and Bonnie and Clyde appears frequently throughout the book and does a good job of connecting the reader to the subject. The book ends with a section about the potential for a future dust bowl and talks about current droughts, soil erosion, and global warming, demonstrating the relevance of the dust bowl to contemporary life and setting the stage for a classroom discussion. Bothbooks will be useful in classrooms and libraries, and each one has the potential to serve a different audience. VOYA CODES: 3Q 4P J (Readable without serious defects; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2004, Clarion, 81p.; Index. Maps. Source Notes. Further Reading., $15. Ages 12 to 15.
—Jenny Ingram
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7-Despite its descriptions of dust and drought, this book is anything but dry. While it includes background information on the Great Depression and the Roosevelt administration's response, the text's strength is the very human face it puts on the overwhelming tragedy of the Dust Bowl years. The flowing narrative draws deeply from letters by and interviews with those who lived through this disastrous period, as well as from the work of John Steinbeck and Woody Guthrie. Cooper focuses on the physical struggle to survive, describing the harsh conditions in migrant camps, especially for the children who worked alongside their parents in the fields and often died of disease and malnutrition. The author follows the exodus from the Great Plains to California along Route 66, lacing the narrative with poems and song lyrics from the era. Of particular interest is his discussion of the grassroots effort on the part of native Californians to force the migrants to return to their home states. Archival black-and-white photographs, many taken by Dorothea Lange, grace most pages and illustrate the desperation and despair of the "Okies." Well-documented source notes are provided for each chapter. A good companion work is Jerry Stanley's poignant Children of the Dust Bowl (Random, 1992).-Joyce Adams Burner, Hillcrest Library, Prairie Village, KS Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780618154494
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
04/19/2004
Pages:
96
Product dimensions:
7.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.25(d)
Lexile:
1120L (what's this?)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"lots of stunning black-and-white archival photos and clear, spacious text that draws on eloquent eyewitness reports...excellent historical account." BOOKLIST Booklist, ALA

"particularly adept...opening windows to a variety of experiences...well-chosen photograph[s] ...should pique adolescents' curiosity about this bleak period." BCCB Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"the text's strength is the very human face it puts on the overwhelming tragedy of the Dust Bowl" SLJ, starred School Library Journal, Starred

"attractive...artistic...the sepia cover sets a historic tone...does a good job of raising the issue of discrimination" VOYA VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)

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