Children of the Dust Bowl: The True Story of the School at Weedpatch Camp
Children of the Dust Bowl: The True Story of the School at Weedpatch Camp

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Annotation: How the children of migrant laborers built their own school in Weedpatch Camp is retold in this documentary history.
Genre: Education
Catalog Number: #51952
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
All Formats: Search
Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
Copyright Date: 1992
Edition Date: 1992
Pages: 85 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-517-88094-6 Perma-Bound: 0-8000-1894-X
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-517-88094-4 Perma-Bound: 978-0-8000-1894-8
Dewey: 371.82
LCCN: 92000393
Dimensions: 24 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
ALA Booklist
Not all of the 50 period photographs were available at the time of this review, but Stanley's text is a compelling document all by itself, supplying much more than the history of the construction of Weedpatch School that the subtitle implies. The book begins with a vivid account of the Dirty Thirties, picturing Dust Bowl farmers driven from their homes by the winds of despair. The first part of the text records the enormity of the Dust Bowl exodus and the migrants' desperate, dangerous journey, with the remainder of the book focusing on the efforts of Leo Hart, who founded Arvin Federal Emergency (Weedpatch) School, and on the group of Okie children who actually built it. Throughout are songs, stories, and comments from individuals who survived to tell of the filth and heat and dust, of the meals of coffee grounds and apple pits, and of the prejudice and poverty encountered in the California promised land. The story is inspiring and disturbing, and Stanley has recorded the details with passion and dignity. An excellent curriculum item. (Reviewed Sept. 1, 1992)
Horn Book
Drawing on a wide range of written sources and personal interviews, Stanley tells of the desperate poverty of farm families who moved from Oklahoma to California to escape the dust storms. The beautifully crafted social history focuses on the children living in Arvin Federal Camp and Leo Hart, the compassionate high-school counselor who undertook the bold enterprise of helping the children build their own school. Bib., ind.
Kirkus Reviews
In his first book, a professor with a specialty in California history recreates experiences like those described in The Grapes of Wrath, in a photodocumentary that follows the ``Okies'' from Oklahoma to a California so overcrowded with Dust Bowl refugees that jobs were scarce, wages meager, and the local population so horrified by the crowds of hungry, uneducated migrants that violence against them was common. By 1937, somewhat better conditions prevailed in 10 camps built by Roosevelt's Farm Security Administration; still, locals were unwilling to receive Okies in their schools. Stanley details the building of a remarkable school at one camp, largely thanks to the vision of Superintendent of Schools Leo Hart, who leased 10 acres of federal land and some decrepit buildings for $10.00, paid for a truck himself, solicited donations of materials, hired teachers who were willing to teach anything or help out anywhere, and organized staff and children to build the school with their own hands. Much of the curriculum was practical (trades involved in construction; an on-site farm); much was creative (high grades won the privilege of driving an airplane on a runway—or of being allowed to help dig a swimming pool). Stanley makes it clear that successes weren't universal (though by the time the school closed non-Okies were clamoring for admission), but notes the later successes of many Okie graduates. Lucid, dramatic, and splendidly inspiring; based largely on interviews with participants, including Hart; many excellent period photos. Bibliographic note; index. (Nonfiction. 9+)"
School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 6 Up-- Stanley has crafted a well-researched, highly readable portrait of the ``Okies'' driven to California by the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s and the formidable hardships they faced. After first detailing the desperation of their lives in the Midwest, he follows them on their trek across the western United States to the promise of work in California, where their hopes were dashed. After providing this thorough, sympathetic context of their plight, he zeroes in on the residents of Weedpatch Camp, one of several farm-labor camps built by the federal government. The remainder of the book is devoted to educator Leo Hart and the role he played in creating a ``federal emergency school.'' Interviews with Hart and the school's former teachers and pupils make Children of the Dust Bowl useful to students of oral history, as well as of the Depression. A thorough index enhances the research value of the book, although it is interesting enough to enjoy for itself. The book is lavishly illustrated with period black-and-white photographs. An informative and inspirational bit of American history. --Joyce Adams Burner, formerly at Spring Hill Middle School, KS
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references (pages 78-80) and index.
Word Count: 11,908
Reading Level: 6.8
Interest Level: 5-9
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 6.8 / points: 2.0 / quiz: 6660 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:6.5 / points:5.0 / quiz:Q02127
Lexile: 1120L
Guided Reading Level: Y
Fountas & Pinnell: Y

Illus. with photographs from the Dust Bowl era. This true story took place at the emergency farm-labor camp immortalized in Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. Ostracized as "dumb Okies," the children of Dust Bowl migrant laborers went without school--until Superintendent Leo Hart and 50 Okie kids built their own school in a nearby field.


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