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Voices of the Dust Bowl
     

Voices of the Dust Bowl

by Sherry Garland, Judith Hierstein (Illustrator)
 

Voices from those who lived through the largest environmental catastrophe in American history. From 1931 to 1940, a combination of drought and soil erosion destroyed the fragile ecology and economy of the Great Plains. Evocative illustrations accompany poignant testimonies, including those of a farmer's wife, a banker, and a child who had never seen rain, to

Overview

Voices from those who lived through the largest environmental catastrophe in American history. From 1931 to 1940, a combination of drought and soil erosion destroyed the fragile ecology and economy of the Great Plains. Evocative illustrations accompany poignant testimonies, including those of a farmer's wife, a banker, and a child who had never seen rain, to provide an emotionally charged account.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Garland imagines the voices of individuals living in the American Midwest during the Dust Bowl. In 1933 Texas, Bonnie and Clyde travel in a “stolen Ford V-8/ looking for a bank to rob.” Other characters include a nurse at a “makeshift hospital” in 1935 Kansas (“Every day I see mothers tend their dying babies,/ helplessly watching the small bodies struggle for air”) and a mother of nine en route to California, looking for work. There’s an immediacy and quiet desperation in Garland’s first-person unrhymed poems; while Hierstein’s paintings can be rich and evocative, particularly her landscapes, her characters’ expressions are at times lifeless. Additional historical information is densely packed into a two-page afterword. Ages 4–7. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
On each dated, double-page spread, a character tersely tells a personal story of his or her experience on the Great Plains from 1893 to 1940. A Native American mourns the loss of the buffalo and the arrival of homesteaders. By mid-1930 in Oklahoma, a nervous banker locks the doors against the angry farmers wanting the money that he no longer has from their accounts. By the fall of 1930, the Depression has arrived, and a hard-working cotton picker is paid "next to nothing." By 1932, the drought in Southeastern Colorado has withered the crops. Bonnie and Clyde explain why they are cheered; a schoolteacher describes the terrible dust from a storm. We learn of further bad results from a farmer's wife, a nurse, a store clerk, a mother, a hobo, even photographer Dorothea Lange. Conservation helps, but the real happy ending is celebrated by a young girl in 1940, when she soaks up rain "at last." The jacket shows a roiling black cloud and a frightened mother and children, setting the tone of these mini-biographies. Hierstein's watercolors are naturalistic, offering images of characteristic details from Bonnie and Clyde's Tommy gun and Ford to the hobos climbing on a long freight train. These images enhance the text's emotional content while adding historic information. There is also an extensive factual note along with a glossary and bibliography. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 3–6—In this third volume in Garland's "Voices" series, 16 individuals describe life during the drought and resulting dust storms on the Great Plains that lasted from 1931 until 1940. Watercolor spreads feature a portrait of the "speaker" in his/her own environment on one side and a short narrative in poetic prose on the other. These are labeled with a date and location, e.g., "1919—Western Kansas"; "Mid-1930—Oklahoma"; "1937—Texas Panhandle"-and arranged chronologically. An old warrior remembers the buffalo herds that roamed the prairie of his youth; a "sodbuster" shows off his "fields of waving gold" (wheat); a banker closes up shop after the stock market crash; schoolmarm, farmer's wife, and nurse relate the awful effects of dust storms, especially on the children; a hobo rides the rails looking for work; a U.S. conservation agent teaches FDR's anti-erosion measures to farmers; a nine-year-old sees her first rainstorm in 1940. Bonnie Parker and Dorothea Lange have their say, as well. Hierstein's paintings are artistically pleasing and informative; the sadness and deep concern on most people's faces reflect the somber mood of the time. A two-page historical note is appended to this well-researched introductory piece. Two other informational titles for the same age group are Allison Lassieur's The Dust Bowl: An Interactive History Adventure (Capstone, 2009) and Sue Vander Hook's The Dust Bowl (ABDO, 2009).—Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781589809642
Publisher:
Pelican Publishing Company, Incorporated
Publication date:
03/01/2012
Series:
Voices of History Series
Pages:
40
Sales rank:
1,387,050
Product dimensions:
10.60(w) x 9.60(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
8 Years

Meet the Author

Sherry Garland has written more than thirty books and won more than forty awards, including an ALA Notable recognition and a Reading Rainbow book selection. She is a frequent presenter at conferences and schools across the country, particularly in her home state of Texas. Garland created the Voices Series to provide personal narratives of pivotal moments in America’s past. The series includes Voices of Pearl Harbor, Voices of the Dust Bowl, Voices of Gettysburg, and Voices of the Alamo. Her other titles include Best Horse on the Force, The Buffalo Soldier, and Children of the Dragon: Selected Tales from Vietnam, all available from Pelican. Garland is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She lives in central Texas.

A former elementary school teacher, Judith Hierstein now teaches high school graphic and media arts. She has illustrated several children's books for Pelican including the Toby Belfer Series and The American Revolution A to Z, Nathan's Hanukkah Bargain, Jim Limber Davis: A Black Orphan in the Confederate White House, and The Pilgrims' Thanksgiving from A to Z. She lives in Tuscon, Arizona.

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