On the morning of January 12, 1888 in the Dakota Territory, the Knieriem family shuffled their children off to school in the mild winter weather. By 11:42 that morning the weather quickly changed, blanketing the American Prairie with blizzard conditions. Because weather forecasters were unable to warn the pioneer families early enough, children, adults, and livestock were caught unaware. Blinding white-out conditions engulfed the region, and by nightfall, some of the coldest air ever recorded plunged the plains into double-digit below zero temperatures. Many of those stranded by the storm were schoolchildren and their teachers. This is why the blizzard has come to be called the School Children’s Blizzard. Many children survived due to the diligence of their teachers, but as the snows melted, nearly 500 storm victims were discovered, many of them children. This true-life adventure story is made accessible to children through Donald Lemke’s outstanding graphic novel. Additional materials introduce readers to “cats,” “twists,” “St. Elmo’s Fire,” and a song remembering one of the teacher-heroines of the storm of 1888. Reviewer: Louanne Jacobs
Donald Lemke works as a children’s book editor. He has written dozens of comic books, including the Zinc Alloy series and the adventures of Bike Rider, and many chapter books for DC Comics. Donald lives in Minnesota with his beautiful wife, Amy, and their not-so-golden retriever, Paulie.