Tuesday, May 11, 2010


"On this day in 1934, a massive storm sends millions of tons of topsoil flying from across the parched Great Plains region of the United States as far east as New York, Boston and Atlanta." (from History.com)

One of my all-time favorite books is Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, the story of the Joad family who leaves Oklahoma where their lives have been devastated by the dust bowl.

Here's a trailer of the Grapes of Wrath movie, followed by some recent literature on the Dust Bowl.

As for books on the Dust Bowl, here are several for young readers.

Children of the Dust Bowl by Jerry Stanley

Dust for Dinner by Ann Turner

Dust to Eat by Michael L. Cooper

Dear Mrs.Roosevelt by Robert Cohen

And of course, there is the incomparable Newbery winner, Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse. Written in verse, it captures the heartbreak of the times every bit as effectively as does Grapes of Wrath.

From Out of the Dust:
pg. 31

I heard the wind rise,
and stumbled from my bed,
down the stairs,
out the front door,
into the yard.
The night sky kept flashing,
lightning danced down on its spindly legs.

I sensed it before I knew it was coming.
I heard it,
smelled it,
tasted it.

While Ma and Daddy slept,
the dust came,
tearing up fields where the winter wheat,
set for harvest in June,
stood helpless.
I watched the plants,
surviving after so much drought and so much wind,
I watched them fry,
or blow away,
like bits of cast-off rags.

It wasn't until the dust turned toward the house,
like a fired locomotive,
and I fled, barefoot and breathless, back inside,
it wasn't until the dust hissed against the windows,
until it ratcheted the roof,
that Daddy woke.

He ran into the storm,
his overalls half-hooked over his union suit.
"Daddy!" I called.  "You can't stop dust."


  1. Wonderful list of books. But will you still be friends with me if I confess I got stuck in the chapter of Grapes of Wrath where the turtle (tortoise?) is trying to cross the road? :)

  2. Becky, you never finished The Grapes of Wrath?!

    That's it! I'm taking my books and going home.

    Truthfully, I haven't read it for decades and don't even remember the turtle crossing the road. It must represent something important, though. Doncha' think? I need to reread.

  3. I think it was a metaphor for how long it was taking the migrants to cross the country and how tired they were. I think I just wanted to get to the real migrants. ;)

  4. I think the dust bowl years are facinating.

  5. Yolanda, there is something about that period of history that grabs me! It is almost incomprehensible what people went through. But they did survive. Lots of them did anyway.

    And that does make me realize we WILL survive the hard times we are in also.