The Great American Dust Bowl
The Great American Dust Bowl

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Annotation: A graphic novel account of the giant dust storms in the Midwest in the 1930s discusses the ecological and agricultural damage caused by the storms.
Catalog Number: #150501
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Copyright Date: 2017
Edition Date: 2013
Pages: 80 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 1-328-74087-0 Perma-Bound: 0-605-99646-6
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-328-74087-8 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-99646-5
Dewey: 363.34
LCCN: 2013037240
Dimensions: 27 cm.
Language: English
Publishers Weekly
The tale of the decade-long drought that laid waste to American plains and ruined the lives of countless farmers is a somber read, but Brown (America Is Under Attack) devotes himself to telling it well, enhancing his expertly paced panels with graphs, text boxes, cutaway views, and extensive quotations from those who endured and survived. He explains how ranchers failed on the plains (-Cattle lacked the sturdiness of bison, and the summer heat and winter blizzards wiped them out-), and how the farmers who replaced them were bamboozled into thinking they could do better on the same ungiving land. WWI inflated wheat prices, the end of the war sent them crashing, and then the drought hit. Brown resists overstatement; a lone farmer-s puzzled look up at the sky is more poignant than any frown. Only the physical descriptions of dust storms pall as later passages revisit details covered earlier. In the end, Brown ties the story of that catastrophe to the one that faces the country now: -In 2011, scorching heat came back and the rain disappeared.- Readers won-t miss the point. Ages 12-up. Agent: Angela Miller, the Miller Agency. (Oct.)-

School Library Journal
Gr 5 Up&12; Brown once again dives into American history, this time telling the story of the Dust Bowl in his first graphic novel. Starting with a tale of a terrifying 200-mile-long duster in 1935, he works back to explain what caused the devastation and its decadelong effects on the economy, the land, and the people. Brown's illustrations bring these facts to life, showing the severity of the tragedy; it's one thing to read about globs of mud falling from the sky like rain, it's quite another to see them painfully pelting a herd of cattle. The drab and beige colors add to the emotional impact and bleakness of each situation, as does Brown's sketch-heavy art style. Comic panels vary beautifully from full-page layouts of vast fields of nothing but dust and devastation to multipaneled action shots, such as an airplane falling out of a dust-filled sky, that instantly create a dramatic and tense mood. The graphic-novel format works well, but the addition of speech bubbles to deliver quotes seems awkward, since characters end up saying things like, "I thought it was the last day of the world" while actively fleeing from a disaster. The quotes are needed; some just seem out of place. Ending with a dismal warning about the potential of similar future disasters, Great American Dust Bowl is a magnificent overview of this chapter in U.S. history. Pair it with Karen Hesse's Out of the Dust (Scholastic, 1997) and Matt Phelan's The Storm in the Barn (Candlewick, 2009), both of which are more entertaining, but Brown's book is more informative.&12; Peter Blenski, Greenfield Public Library, WI
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
A graphic-novel account of the science and history that first created and then, theoretically, destroyed the terrifying Dust Bowl storms that raged in the United States during the "dirty thirties." "A speck of dust is a tiny thing. Five of them could fit on the period at the end of this sentence." This white-lettered opening is set against a roiling mass of dark clouds that spills from verso to recto as a cartoon farmer and scores of wildlife flee for their lives. The dialogue balloon for the farmer--"Oh my God! Here it comes!"--is the first of many quotations (most of them more informative) from transcripts of eyewitnesses. These factual accounts are interspersed with eloquently simple explanations of the geology of the Great Plains, the mistake of replacing bison with cattle and other lead-ups to the devastations of the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. The comic-book–style characters create relief from the relentlessly grim stories of hardship and loss, set in frames appropriately backgrounded in grays and browns. Although readers learn of how the U.S. government finally intervened to help out, the text does not spare them from accounts of crippling droughts even in the current decade. From its enticing, dramatic cover to its brown endpapers to a comical Grant Wood–esque final image, this is a worthy contribution to the nonfiction shelves. (bibliography, source notes, photographs) (Graphic nonfiction. 10 & up)
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Concise and clear in imagery, text, and layout, Brown's (Henry and the Cannons, 2013) nonfiction examination of the Dust Bowl contextualizes its genesis in geological and cultural history, the dynamics of its climatological presentation, and the effects on both the landscape and Depression-era High Plains farmers. The pen-and-ink artwork, digitally painted in burnished and dusty brown and yellow hues d the shock of blue that comes with the rain that eventually clears the air combined with swirling text, along with well-researched and minimally descriptive explanations and occasional speech balloons attributed to anonymous residents and observers. The brevity of this presentation heightens rather than diminishes its power to evoke the history, and an ample list of resources provides plenty of opportunities for further research. A closing photo of the 2011 dust storm in Arizona emphasizes that the Dust Bowl wasn't an isolated incident. This is a complete visual package, from the whirly, mud-colored cover design through the sudden reintroduction of color only after the dust storms abate. The Dust Bowl, as experienced by its survivors, truly comes to life in this compelling look at an important moment in American history.
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references (pages 78-80).
Word Count: 2,619
Reading Level: 5.1
Interest Level: 5-9
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.1 / points: 0.5 / quiz: 160794 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:6.6 / points:6.0 / quiz:Q61389
Lexile: GN860L
Guided Reading Level: M

An award-winning author/illustrator brings the ODirty ThirtiesO to life in this gripping graphic novel account of one of America's most catastrophic natural events.

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