Voices of the Dust Bowl

Voices of the Dust Bowl

by Sherry Garland, Judith Hierstein
     
 

The 1930s Dust Bowl was the greatest ecological tragedy in the United States. Through a combination of drought and fierce winds, America's Great Plains were left bare. In a series of sixteen narrative profiles, the author brings to life the voices of this time period. The characters who symbolize common residents of the "Great American Desert," include a teacher… See more details below

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Overview

The 1930s Dust Bowl was the greatest ecological tragedy in the United States. Through a combination of drought and fierce winds, America's Great Plains were left bare. In a series of sixteen narrative profiles, the author brings to life the voices of this time period. The characters who symbolize common residents of the "Great American Desert," include a teacher protecting her class from a black roller, a nurse treating patients with dust pneumonia, and a nine-year-old girl who has never seen rain.

Dated entries appear chronologically and depict outlaw Bonnie Parker and photographer Dorthea Lange, among other figures of the era. In the back of the book, a historical note gives a thorough overview of the Dust Bowl's national impact on population growth, healthcare, and the government. A glossary explains terms such as Hooverville and Civilian Conservation Corps. An educational resource, this illustrated history conveys the full effect of this disastrous decade.

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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

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781589809642
Publisher:
Pelican Publishing Company, Incorporated
Publication date:
03/01/2012
Series:
Voices of History Series
Pages:
40
Sales rank:
733,422
Product dimensions:
10.60(w) x 9.60(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

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