NEXT YEAR by Ruth Vander Zee
Kirkus Star

NEXT YEAR

by ; illustrated by
Age Range: 8 - 14
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

An early adolescent boy who lives with his parents on their farm during the Dust Bowl tells his story in this picture book.

In 1935, Calvin, the white narrator, is 12. He lives with Ma and Dad (both also white) on a farm on a prairie that has become, because of the four-year drought, a land of starving cattle, withered crops, and dust storms. Calvin’s father, discouraged but clinging to hope, tells him, “It’s gonna be better next year.” But it doesn’t get better for four more years—until 1939—when the rains finally come. By then Calvin’s parents have had enough, and to Calvin’s dismay, they pack up and leave. Now 16 and realizing, “I love what I’ve hated for so long,” Calvin stays behind to farm the land in the more sustainable ways he has learned about during the drought. Vander Zee’s poetic narrative, with its precise distillation and keen perception, brings the poverty and heartbreak of this time powerfully forward, while the story’s undercurrent of perseverance, strength of character, and, ultimately, respect and stewardship of the land gives it hope. Kelley’s magnificent, colorful, black-outlined illustrations flawlessly convey the grandeur of the land as well as the awfulness of that time. The book’s overall design is stellar, each page a visual tour de force, balancing white space, words, and illustration.

Stunning. (author’s note) (Picture book. 8-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-56846-282-0
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Creative Editions/Creative Company
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2017




MORE BY RUTH VANDER ZEE

ChildrenALWAYS WITH YOU by Ruth Vander Zee
by Ruth Vander Zee
ChildrenMISSISSIPPI MORNING by Ruth Vander Zee
by Ruth Vander Zee

MORE BY GARY KELLEY

ChildrenTHE EMILY SONNETS by Jane Yolen
by Jane Yolen
ChildrenAND THE SOLDIERS SANG by J. Patrick Lewis
by J. Patrick Lewis
ChildrenDARK FIDDLER by Aaron Frisch
by Aaron Frisch

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

ChildrenTHE GREAT AMERICAN DUST BOWL by Don Brown
by Don Brown
ChildrenYEARS OF DUST by Albert Marrin
by Albert Marrin
ChildrenOUT OF THE DUST by Karen Hesse
by Karen Hesse