YEARS OF DUST

THE STORY OF THE DUST BOWL

Marrin’s approach to the story of the Dust Bowl is unique in its focus on ecology, arguing that the ignorant and exploitive practices of farmers, hunters and ranchers made the catastrophe worse than it needed to be. Hunting indigenous species such as the buffalo and prairie dog to near extinction, killing off predators of smaller animals, introducing cattle grazing and destroying the natural landscape for farms and settlements all set the stage for the disaster to come. The author does not neglect the miseries suffered by families living in the afflicted areas, however, placing the story in the context of the Great Depression and explaining how what was happening in the Great Plains was yet another sign to Americans of the country’s downward spiral. The author concludes with a discussion of modern ecological disasters in the making. The engaging narrative includes quotes from a variety of primary sources, and it is abundantly illustrated throughout with photographs and other archival material, making this a reader-friendly, insightful work of history. (glossary, notes, further resources, bibliography, index, timeline) (Nonfiction. 10-16)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-525-42077-4

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2009

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SCAT

During a field trip to Black Vine Swamp, a suspicious “wildfire” breaks out, and much-feared and -reviled science teacher Mrs. Starch vanishes. The school gets a letter stating she is away on a “family emergency,” but no one believes that. Nick Waters and his friend Marta Gonzales are sure bad-boy Duane “Smoke” Scrod, Jr., is to blame for both fire and disappearance. However, there’s more to Duane, Mrs. Starch and the fire than Nick or Marta could ever imagine. This is Hiaasen Country, so the complications include a rare Florida panther, a crooked oil company, a tree-hugging Hayduke of a millionaire and a couple of well-meaning-but-not-as-swift-as-the-kids detectives. Hiaasen’s third outing for young readers might be a little slow in pacing and the character types might be recognizable to experienced readers, but fans of Hoot and Flush (2002, 2005) will not be disappointed by this funny, believable, environmentally friendly tween thriller. (Thriller. 10-15)

Pub Date: Jan. 13, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-375-83486-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2008

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Middle school worries and social issues skillfully woven into a moving, hopeful, STEM-related tale.

THE EXACT LOCATION OF HOME

Following the precise coordinates of geocaching doesn’t yield the treasure Kirby Zagonski Jr. seeks: his missing father.

Geeky eighth-grader Kirby can’t understand why his mother won’t call his dad after their generous landlady dies and they’re evicted for nonpayment of rent. Though his parents have been divorced for several years and his father, a wealthy developer, has been unreliable, Kirby is sure he could help. Instead he and his mother move to the Community Hospitality Center, a place “for the poor. The unfortunate. The homeless.” Suddenly A-student Kirby doesn’t have a quiet place to do his schoolwork or even a working pencil. They share a “family room” with a mother and young son fleeing abuse. Trying to hide this from his best friends, Gianna and Ruby, is a struggle, especially as they spend after-school hours together. The girls help him look for the geocaches visited by “Senior Searcher,” a geocacher Kirby is sure is his father. There are ordinary eighth-grade complications in this contemporary friendship tale, too; Gianna just might be a girlfriend, and there’s a dance coming up. Kirby’s first-person voice is authentic, his friends believable, and the adults both sometimes helpful and sometimes unthinkingly cruel. The setting is the largely white state of Vermont, but the circumstances could be anywhere.

Middle school worries and social issues skillfully woven into a moving, hopeful, STEM-related tale. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68119-548-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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