Out of the Dust


Out of the Dust         Scholastic ©1997
Karen Hesse                   227 pages

Summary: Out of the Dust is set in the midst of the historical Dust Bowl. Billie Jo is born into a poor, farming family. The book begins in the winter of 1934, and the Dust Bowl has sent many people searching a new home, while Billie Jo and her family try to make it by staying. She loves to play the piano, but after an accident which causes the death of her mother and unborn sibling, Billie Jo struggles to play. In the accident, her hands are burned, and she struggles to deal with her loss of her mother, the loss of her hands, and the deep depression with her father.

Character Descriptions:

Billie Jo is a young girl who loves to play the piano.

Pa is a farmer.

Personal Reflection: This novel is great for integrated curriculum and reluctant readers because it is in poetic and journal form.  

     Historical Fiction
     Poetry and Ryhmes

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

Discussion Questions:

1. Why do you think the father stopped talking to Billie Jo after the mom and baby died?

2. How is your life different from Billie Jo's, and how is it the same?

     Newbery Medal, 1998 
     School Library Journal Best Books of the Year, 1997
     American Library Association Notable Books for Children, 1998
     ABC Children's Booksellers Choices Awards, 1998
     Scott O'Dell Historical Fiction Award, 1998