Friday, February 5, 2010

Book Review: Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse

Several years ago I took a class about writing children's books. At the time I was working for a curriculum publisher and writing concept books for children K-2. It was a wonderful class. Towards the end of the term the teacher had a drawing for some books that had won the Newbery Medal. Surprise, surprise, I was a winner. But the book I won I wasn't really excited about. At first glance it looked like one long poem. I appreciate poems and the genius that goes into writing them, but I've never been a real fan of poetry. The instructor of the class said it was outstanding, so I gave it try. Am I glad I did!!!

Out of the Dust is a book in poem form, but grabs you in the first stanza. Take a look.

As summer wheat came ripe,
so did I,

born at home, on the kitchen floor.
Ma crouched,
barefoot, bare bottomed
over the swept boards,
because that's where Daddy said it'd be best.

I could not put this book down. I read it cover to cover in a couple of hours and was totally awestruck. Scenes from this novel clung to me long after I'd put it down. But more than that I felt the emotions of this girl. I cried when she cried and laughed when she laughed. I don't usually do that. Here's the backliner of the book.

A terrible accident has transformed Billie Jo's life, scarring her inside and out. Her mother is gone. Her father can't talk about it. And the one thing that might make her feel better--playing the piano--is impossible with her wounded hands. To make matters worse, dust storms are devastating the family farm and all the farms nearby. While others flee from the dust bowl, Billie Jo is left to find peace in the bleak landscape of Oklahoma--and in the surprising landscape of her own heart.

If you have the chance buy this book and add it to your library. You won't regret it.

(Scholastic Inc., published this book. I have no connection with the author or publisher of this book and freely gave this book review.)


  1. Wow. That sounds pretty incredible. You've got a lot of good books to recommend!

  2. Thanks for stopping by L.T.. It was very incredible. That's why it won the Newbery Medal. You must think I like everything I read, but I don't. After "having" to read books I didn't care for in college I quit reading books cover to cover that I didn't like. Life is just to short.



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