Winner of the 1998 Newbery Medal
Winner of the 1998 Scott O'Dell award
Synopses & Reviews
Fans of the Little House books will fall in love with Esther.
Thanks to her superstitious mother, Esther knows some tricks for avoiding bad luck: toss salt over your left shoulder, never button your shirt crooked, and avoid black cats. But even luck can't keep her family safe from the Great Depression. When Pa loses his job, Esther's family leaves their comfy Chicago life behind for a farm in Wisconsin.
Living on a farm comes with lots of hard work, but that means there are plenty of opportunities for Esther to show her mother how helpful she can be. She loves all of the farm animals (except the mean geese) and even better makes a fast friend in lively Bethany. But then Ma sees a sign that Esther just knows is wrong. If believing a superstition makes you miserable, how can that be good luck?
Debut author Gayle Rosengren brings the past to life in this extraordinary, hopeful story.
"This intimate novel...poetically conveys the heat, dust and wind of Oklahoma....Readers may find their own feelings swaying in beat with the heroine's shifting moods as she approaches her coming-of-age and a state of self-acceptance." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"Hesse presents a hale and determined heroine who confronts unrelenting misery and begins to transcend it. The poem/novel ends with only a trace of hope; there are no pat endings, but a glimpse of beauty wrought from brutal reality." Kirkus Reviews
"Hesse's ever-growing skill as a writer willing to take chances with her form shines through superbly in her ability to take historical facts and weave them into the fictional story of a character young people will readily embrace." School Library Journal
"[E]vocative....This novel celebrates the tenacity of the human spirit....A thoughtful and provocative book for classrooms and libraries." Sarah K. Herz, VOYA
"The always-inventive author of A Time of Angels has done it again....In this testament to the strength of one girl's will, Hesse takes a poetic turn at telling the story of the Oklahoma dust bowl during the Great Depression." Alexandria LaFaye, Children's Literature
"[T]old by as memorable a heroine as you will meet in YA literature, Out of the Dust will wrench your gut....[A] distinguished novel, richly meriting as wide a readership as possible among teens, among adults. It is very good." Ted Hipple, The ALAN Review
A poem cycle that reads as a novel, this Newbery Medal winner tells the story of Billie Jo, a girl who struggles to help her family survive the dust bowl years of the Depression.
When Billie Jo is just fourteen she must endure heart-wrenching ordeals that no child should have to face. The quiet strength she displays while dealing with unspeakable loss is as surprising as it is inspiring.
Written in free verse, this award-winning story is set in the heart of the Great Depression. It chronicles Oklahoma's staggering dust storms, and the environmental and emotional turmoil they leave in their path. An unforgettable tribute to hope and inner strength.
This gripping story, written in sparse first-person, free-verse poems, is the compelling tale of Billie Jo's struggle to survive during the dust bowl years of the Depression. With stoic courage, she learns to cope with the loss of her mother and her grieving father's slow deterioration. There is hope at the end when Billie Jo's badly burned hands are healed, and she is able to play her beloved piano again. The 1998 Newbery Medal winner.
About the Author
Karen Hesse grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, and earned a B.A. from the University of Maryland. She loves writing for young readers and began her writing for young readers and began her writing life as a young poet. Out of the Dust is a return to her poetic roots.