The Dust Bowl

Overview

A drought is plaguing a farm family, and Matthew's grandfather looks out the window and tells him about the Big Dry of the 1930s. He describes the good times when farmers felt as if they had struck gold, and also recalls the great dust clouds that could block out the sun for days. Once again, as this new drought continues, the family clings to the hope of seeing their land green. Full color.
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Overview

A drought is plaguing a farm family, and Matthew's grandfather looks out the window and tells him about the Big Dry of the 1930s. He describes the good times when farmers felt as if they had struck gold, and also recalls the great dust clouds that could block out the sun for days. Once again, as this new drought continues, the family clings to the hope of seeing their land green. Full color.
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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Meredith Kiger
A grandfather gives a nostalgic history to his grandson of the long struggle for the family to keep their farm on the American prairie going over the years with special focus on the dust bowl years. The chronological recollections include anecdotes about various family members including the young boy's father. The tale leads them to the present struggle amidst a drought to find the resolve to not give up the farming tradition. Muted illustrations add to the nostalgic view.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3--History can be difficult for children to conceptualize, but here a boy's breakfast connects him to the past. The dust that coats Matthew's cereal bowl becomes a metaphor for the drought his family faces. Like the "Big Dry" of the 1930s, there's too little rain and too much wind for the wheat they grow on their farm. Listening to his grandfather's stories about life on their Canadian farm during those years, and watching his father toil for the land he loves, Matthew learns that determination has overcome hardship in the past and likely can again. Reczuch's pencil-and-watercolor illustrations have a matte finish that mimics a fine coating of dust. Readers will feel the wind-blown sand stinging the children's faces as they walk home from school. The menacing grasshoppers that devoured the crops during the "Dirty Thirties" are viewed from a close-up perspective, making them appear to be larger-than-life monsters. Children in farming communities may find comfort from knowing that the problems of the present have been overcome in the past. City dwellers will come to realize the courage it takes to continue working the land in the face of uncertainty.--Jeanette Larson, Texas State Library, Austin
Kirkus Reviews
Booth (Doctor Knickerbocker and Other Rhymes, 1993, etc.) uses a present-day drought on a Canadian farm as a prompt for a grandfather's gritty reminiscence of the hardscrabble times during the 1930s Dust Bowl. Readers follow along a slow-moving narrative, hearing of dust and dirt everywhere, learning of towels stuffed in the cracks of doors, of children walking to school backwards to keep the wind from stinging their faces, and of clearing the dust from the nostrils of cows. The underlying theme suggests the fortitude and tenacity of overcoming hardship; the story itself comes across as a bit of a sleepy memoir, without a strong thread to connect it to the contemporary farm. The grandfather was a young married man during the "Big Dry," so his perspective naturally remains an adult one. Laced with historical facts that may work best in a social-studies curriculum, the telling lacks emotion, and these male members of three generations don't have any personalities to draw readers in. The grainy, nostalgic illustrations in muted earth tones capture the energy of dust storms: A cloud of hot, sucking wind frightens the horse, knits the brow of the grandmother, and creases the faces of children walking against the wind.
Quill & Quire
It is in the grandfather’s voice that Booth’s sharpest and most evocative writing comes through. Karen Reczuch’s sun-bleached, dusty colors complement Booth’s text perfectly, and she conjures up the modern-day and Depression-era farms - and the expanse of the Prairies - with equal ease.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781550742954
  • Publisher: Kids Can Press, Limited
  • Publication date: 9/28/1997
  • Edition description: 1st U.S. Edition
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 9 Years
  • Lexile: 620L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.95 (d)

Meet the Author

Karen Reczuch has illustrated many award winning children's books, including Morning on the Lake and The Dust Bowl, winner of the 1997 Toronto Chapter I.O.D.E. Award. She lives in Acton, Ontario with her two children.

David Booth is a university professor, author and anthologist of more than thirty books. His lives in Toronto, Ontario.

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