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Karen Hesse

Author of Out of the Dust

33+ Works 24,257 Members 783 Reviews 11 Favorited

About the Author

Karen Hesse (born on August 29, 1952 Baltimore, Maryland) is an American author of children's literature and literature for young adults. She studied theatre at Towson State College, and finished her undergraduate degree at the University of Maryland in English, Psychology, and Anthropology. In show more 1998 she won the Newbery Medal for her young adult novel, Out of the Dust. Hesse lives in Vermont with her husband and two teen-aged daughters. (Bowker Author Biography) show less

Works by Karen Hesse

Out of the Dust (1997) 7,533 copies
The Music of Dolphins (1996) 2,586 copies
Letters from Rifka (1992) 2,526 copies
Witness (2001) 1,750 copies
Come On, Rain (1999) 1,626 copies
Stowaway (2000) 1,616 copies
Just Juice (1998) 925 copies
Phoenix Rising (1994) 886 copies
The Cats in Krasinski Square (2004) 779 copies
Sable (1994) 641 copies
Aleutian Sparrow (2003) 388 copies
A Time of Angels (1995) 386 copies
Brooklyn Bridge (2008) 304 copies
Safekeeping (2012) 219 copies

Associated Works

A Christmas Carol (1843) — Introduction, some editions — 24,850 copies
What You Wish For: A Book for Darfur (2011) — Contributor — 70 copies
Dear America: The Nation at War: The Civil War Collection (2002) — Contributor — 12 copies


American history (102) animals (105) cats (110) chapter book (236) children (127) children's (245) children's literature (148) Civil War (90) Dear America (102) death (107) depression (92) dolphins (92) Dust Bowl (416) family (357) fiction (1,068) friendship (90) Great Depression (332) historical (126) historical fiction (1,493) history (268) Holocaust (150) immigration (122) Jewish (119) Jews (110) juvenile (103) juvenile fiction (98) Newbery (155) Newbery Medal (207) novel in verse (142) Oklahoma (175) picture book (235) poetry (518) poverty (104) rain (140) realistic fiction (217) to-read (187) weather (147) WWII (207) YA (246) young adult (323)

Common Knowledge



Found: YA or children's novel, varying font sizes in Name that Book (September 2021)
Found: YA Book walking home in the apocalypse in Name that Book (March 2021)


I didn’t want it to end! I wish the diary would have continued to January 1, 1862 at least! (SPOILER!!) I HATED how her parents got divorced then the book just ended. It was so abrupt! (SPOILER!!)

There was kind of an abrupt start to this book. There wasn’t much of an introduction. That’s more of personal preference. I would have liked more intro.

I absolutely loved the sprinkle of romance that was in here! I was not expecting it but welcomed it wholeheartedly!

There’s also amazing imagery!! For example, “The current in the channel was stronger than usual. The current inside me, too.”

Things to be aware of in “A Light in the Storm:”

- 1 “dang”
- 1 “damn”
- 1 “stupid”
- A character is called a “mooncusser”
- “Cursed,” “curse,” and “cursing” (no elaboration)
Note: For the most part, language was only noted if spoken as an insult.

- This book is set during a war, so naturally, there are many deaths noted (mildly descriptive)

Romantic Content:
- A boy kisses a girl on her forehead (both unmarried)

Spiritual Content:
- A mention of “do you believe in God?” And, “do you believe in the Devil?” The answer to both was “no.”
- Many mentions of prayer
- Mentions of Sabbath
At the beginning/middle of the book, I was very satisfied with the spiritual content, but as it progressed (and her life gets harder) I feel like Amelia prayed less where she should have been relying on God.

Additional Notes:
- One mention of an animal being shot because it aggressively bit other animals, which also had to be put down. (Sensitive readers may not appreciate that.)
- Amelia gives her grandmother rum to “ease her aches” (no mention of 16-year old Amelia drinking any)
- Amelia’s parents are not harmonious.
- Mentions of divorce. “If a country can break its bonds, why not two people?”
- “He and his wife are as big and boisterous as whales.”
- On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin is mentioned and recommended to other characters.
- A lot of talk about slavery. Some characters support it; some used to.
- Many scenes including of screaming, yelling and angry outrages.
… (more)
ChooseHappy | 15 other reviews | May 6, 2024 |
ASSG.Library | 351 other reviews | Mar 8, 2024 |
written in free verse this story of a young girl coming of age in the dust bowl is not to be missed. I wasn't sure I would like the format, but it conveys emotion with so much subtlety , it really enhances the story.
cspiwak | 351 other reviews | Mar 6, 2024 |
Join Granny and Bean as they enjoy a day walking on the beach and finding friends and treasures.
The rhyming text and soft mixed media illustrations create a beautiful sing song story that is calming and peaceful. The large illustrations and simple text make it a great read aloud to end a busy storytime or as a bedtime book. The illustrations are not too busy and provide room for the reader to add their own thoughts to the story. This book provides opportunities to talk about the illustrations, story and rhyming words fostering narrative skills, phonological awareness and vocabulary.… (more)
SWONclear | 2 other reviews | Mar 5, 2024 |



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Mary Pope Osborne Contributor
Ellen Potter Contributor
Patrick Jennings Contributor
Alison McGhee Contributor
David Levithan Contributor
M. T. Anderson Contributor
Gail Carson Levine Contributor
Wendy Watson Illustrator
John J. Muth Illustrator
Marcia Sewall Illustrator
Erik Blegvad Illustrator
Sarah Jones Narrator
Evon Zerbetz Illustrator
Rodica Prado Cartographer
Trina Schart Hyman Cover artist
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