Wednesday, July 25, 2007

36. Children of the Dust Bowl: The True Story of the School at Weedpatch Camp by Jerry Stanley

Nonfiction book annotation
By: Angela Wilcox

85 Pages

Stanley, J. (1992). Children of the dust bowl: The true story of the school at Weedpatch Camp. New York: Crown Publishers Inc.

Author Creditability: Stanley is a history professor at California Sate University, where he teaches courses that include this topic. He interviewed people and gathered his research from those that had experienced this event firsthand. He has earned recognition from the Orbis Pictus list several times for his nonfiction children’s literature.

Summary: This narrative and chronological book is a true account of what it was like for the Oklahoma Farmers and their families to live in the middle of the Dust Bowl. The reader is made aware of the harsh conditions, prejudices they faced and some desperate times that the Okies had to overcome. You go on the journey with the Okie families as they migrate to California in hopes of a better life. Once there, they are faced with even more prejudice and extreme struggles from day to day. Finally, Leo Hart begins to help the families by starting their own school for the Okie children. Here, they learn life skills and the basics in academics. Through this they receive a since of pride and accomplishment that will help them for years to come with different obstacles they are faced with.

Most Important Access Features: This book contains photographs with captions that help explain them to the reader. There is an author’s note that provides some background knowledge of the word Okie and the introduction helps to build schema for the reader. In the back of the book there is an afterword that provides the reader with information on what happened next with Leo Hart. Next, there is a bibliographic note, picture credits, acknowledgments, and an index.

Description of Illustrations: The photographs are all black and white and actually came from the people Stanley interviewed and from historical documents. He was able to use the photos to help depict the life of the Okies to the reader.

Grade Level & Uses: 4-8 grade; This book could be used to teach about the time period of the Great Depression. You could also use this book in character education when talking about the prejudice.

Standards: Culture; Time, Continuity, and Change; People, Places, and Environments; Individual Development and Identity; Individuals, Groups, and Institutions

Related Texts & How Related: These books could be used along with Children of the Dust Bowl to this time period.

Potato: A Tale from the Great Depression by Kate Lied
The Dust Bowl by David Booth
Dear Mrs. Roosevelt: Letters from Children of the Great Depression by Robert Cohen

1993 Orbis Pictus Winner
ALA Notable Book
Horn Book Fanfare Outstanding Book of the Year
Booklist Editor’s Choice

Personal Response to Book: This was a very interesting and emotional read. There were some parts of the text that outraged me as a teacher, but Leo gave me inspiration for helping and making a difference in my students. The photographs were also very moving. I believe they were what helped to make the book and definitely told the story.


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