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Children of the Dust Bowl: The True Story of…

Children of the Dust Bowl: The True Story of the School at Weedpatch Camp (edition 1993)

by Jerry Stanley

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56918317,472 (4.21)1
Title:Children of the Dust Bowl: The True Story of the School at Weedpatch Camp
Authors:Jerry Stanley
Info:Crown Books for Young Readers (1993), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 96 pages
Collections:Your library

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Children of the Dust Bowl by Jerry Stanley



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“Children of the Dust Bowl: The True Story of the School at Weedpatch Camp” is a moving story about the lives of the displaced children of the dust bowl and a dedicated educator, Leo Hart, as they worked together to build a new home, community, and school. The book begins by describing the conditions of life for farmers in “the Panhandle” during the dust bowl of the 1930s. The story is told in an enumerative or topical structure, as it next describes "the Okies" journey on Route 66 as they searched for a better life in California. The author, Jerry Stanley, describes the horrible conditions and discrimination that the Okies faced once they reached California, and the toll it took on the children whose lives were uprooted so they could have a better life. He uses descriptive language to describe the dire circumstances that the Okies endured, such as when he described how the children “wore dresses made out of chicken-feed sacks, baggy overalls held up by rope, and frequently no shoes at all” while they were forced to sit on the floor in the back of the classroom at school. The author seems to be trying to set the stage for the story of the Weedpatch School, but it seems as though the chapters are a bit disjointed. The author does a good job of smoothly transitioning from one chapter to the next with concluding paragraphs that introduce the topics that he focuses on in the following chapter, but the overall story seems to lack cohesiveness. It feels as though the author’s tone and writing suddenly jumps from describing the hardships that dustbowl refugees faced in chapter four to telling the uplifting story of the nontraditional Weedpatch School beginning in chapter five.

Although there is no true bibliography, Stanley provides a “bibliographic note and picture credits” section in which he describes the references he used to write the story as well as list his photograph sources. The “about the author” section at the very end of the book also states that Stanley interviewed Leo Hart, Pete Bancroft, as well as teachers and students from the Weedpatch School in order to accurately tell the story of the discrimination that the students faced and convey the pride and emotional connection that the children felt to the school. Quotes from Leo Hart and these teachers and students paint a picture of supportive and loving environment that allowed the Okie children to thrive. The author’s message really seems to focus on community support and overcoming adversity. The photographs provided throughout the book also help the reader imagine the adversity that the Okie children faced and the amount of effort they put in to building a better future for themselves.

This is truly an inspiring story, and as an educator, it reminds me that our focus must always be on the needs of the student. Leo Hart was able to provide a meaningful education to the children of the Weedpatch School by creating a community of love and support while focusing on building “a richer and broader curriculum.” ( )
  ssmithers | Mar 25, 2017 |
This book is a very informative book that offers insight on what children of the era of "The Dust Bowl" went through. These children along with their parents we through coming from such poor places had to endure. The book includes features such as a table of contents, which is helpful in determining what each chapter will cover. It also has an author's not explaining a term in the book used to explain the people the book is about, along with it's origin and the meaning of the word depending on who's speaking. The book's introduction was useful and was also referenced about a similar book written by another author who's work was at first valued but soon forgotten due to the harsh truths the fiction book posed, and then overpowered by the book's purpose and was banned from being sold. The addition of pictures in the book added a personal touch because every teacher, child, and worker involved in the making of the school was equally as important to the making of the book. This book included side bar comments and information that was also included in the text on that page, and this was also a great addition because it gave additional information and also explained what and who was included in the pictures. The book also includes a table of contents which if you're looking for something specific, it will point to where the information can be found precisely. I found this book very informative and I could not put it down, it was a very easy read and word choice was cleverly done.
  nseugene | Mar 22, 2017 |
Although this was a quick read, it was unexpectedly powerful. The author uses the title, short introduction, and first chapters to provide some background knowledge to the reader with interspersed photographs and maps. It seemed to be a lot of information crammed into a few short chapters. Because of this, I expected the book to continue to be an historical account of the circumstances and conditions of children affected by the Dust Bowl. Instead, it became a story of hope and compassion that every teacher should read. I was incredibly inspired by the work of Leo Hart, Superintendent of Schools for Kern County. His dedication to the children of migrant workers and willingness to help them when almost no one else cared to, was a sad reminder that sometimes good work must be done even if it means it will be done alone.
The tone of this book is informative, but the author also elicits great compassion from the reader. The language is not terribly difficult and could easily be understood by most middle schoolers and even some in grade school since it is relatable and emotionally involving. The table of contents is minimally informative and is mostly organized chronologically and the author provides a fairly substantial index at the end. The bibliographic note and picture credits indicate that the author received information from a number of sources including personal interviews and correspondence with Leo Hart and several of the children that attended Weedpatch School, as well as written personal accounts by the children at the time.
Again, this should be read by all teachers, but most importantly by those teachers serving poverty stricken areas. The hopeful and victorious stories of the children and teachers at Weedpatch School are truly inspiring. ( )
  rsaxon | Mar 22, 2017 |
This feel-good photographic essay depicts the struggles of the children "Okies", poor farmers from Oklahoma and surrounding areas migrating to California for work during the dust bowl of the 1930's, and one benevolent soul who wanted to get them the education they deserved. The colorized photograph on the cover showing a poor child in dirty clothes and old shoes tells the reader that much of this book is going to be a pretty somber story about poverty. The child though has a look of determination on his face that the majority of the migrants at Weedpatch camp shared. The photographs are all very carefully selected and coincide well with the text to provide the reader with very vivid imagery, like that just mentioned on the cover. Some of the photos also have some slightly longer captions to act as mini-sidebars. Page 29 shows a man with a very small child in a squatter camp before Weedpatch camp was established who, "Ate up our car. Ate up our tent. Living like hogs". Anybody wishing to use this book for reference will find a nice index in the back to more easily find the well-researched information in this book.
Jerry Stanley writes with a very emotional language, using many quotes written with a twangy accent, and even including songs that Okies sang at different stages of the struggle. Readers can even almost hear the steel guitar chords being strung when they see,
If the day looks kinder gloomy
An' the chances kinder slim
If the situation's puzzlin'
An' the prospect awful grim
An' perplexities keep pressin'
Till all hope is nearly gone
Just bristle up and grit your teeth,
An' keep on goin' on
Jerry Stanley brings attention to a dark time period being combatted by the one man who cared enough to act to bring happiness and education to people seen as outsiders. This American feeling that everyone belongs and deserves a chance at life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness can sometimes be forgotten by the masses, but one person was able to make things right. ( )
  ehwall | Mar 22, 2017 |
The New York Times Book Review describes this book as “a powerful account of a desperate time.” In Children of the Dust Bowl: The True Story of the School at Weedpatch Camp, Jerry Stanley shows the role of education in one community’s survival. In the midst of looking for work, battling life-threatening diseases, and trying to survive a drought and a Great Depression, a group of hard-working people - known as Okies - come together to educate their children. This effort was led by Leo Hart, who believed the children of these migrant workers deserved the same education as all children did.

Stanley’s book tells the story in nine chapters, and though the book can easily be read in one sitting, the chapters organize the story in such a way that allows readers to put the book down and come back to it. The glossy pages and wide margins make the text easy on the eyes, while the pictures distributed throughout the chapters enhance the meaning of the story being told. The pictures are in black and white, true to the time period, and they are primary source photographs, which reinforce the authenticity of Stanley’s story. While these photos do not demand pity, they do evoke emotion, and allow the reader to see the hollow, hungry faces of the migrant workers and their families, emphasizing the desperate nature of their situation. In contrast, the pictures from the school at Weedpatch Camp show the joy that came along with a comprehensive and meaningful education.

An “About the Author” page at the back affirms the trustworthiness of this book. Jerry Stanley has spent all of his adult life living in California. He has a Ph.D. (presumably in history) and is a history professor at the California State University in Bakersfield. Furthermore, while writing this text, Stanley interviewed Leo Hart, principal Pete Bancroft, and several former teachers and students from this school. Stanley’s education and position as a professor and published writer give him credibility, while his first-hand interviews guarantee a certain amount of accuracy. A reliable, engaging, informative, and affective book, Children of the Dust Bowl is suitable for readers around third grade and up. It can be used as one of a variety of sources to teach students about the Dust Bowl migration, and it can also be used in any class library as a resource to expose readers to the time period as well as the valuable qualities of the Okies: perseverance, stamina, and community. ( )
  cskaemmerling | Mar 22, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0517880946, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:31 -0400)

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Describes the plight of the migrant workers who traveled from the Dust Bowl to California during the Depression and were forced to live in a federal labor camp and discusses the school that was built for their children.

(summary from another edition)

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