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by Tracey Porter

Age Range: 8 - 12

Pub Date: Sept. 30th, 1997
ISBN: 0-06-027563-4
Publisher: HarperCollins

 Set during a severe 1930s drought and recalling the ambience and incidents of The Grapes of Wrath, this Dust Bowl novel chronicles the plights of two families, told from the points of view of two best friends who narrate alternating chapters. Annie is the solid and spunky would-be archaeologist who combs the dust for arrowheads and sets up a library museum. Violet is her companion and alter ego, a thinker and dreamer with a dose of Annie's tenacity. The hardships of farming the Oklahoma panhandle and the forced exodus of Violet's family to California to work as migrant laborers furnish a convincing backdrop for this well-drawn character novel. The story unfolds through lilting descriptions and fervent dialogue, then gives way to affecting letters from Violet as she leaves home with her family. In her first novel, Porter infuses a barren landscape with searing images as static electricity sparks over the roof of a truck and ``dunes curve around the barn like arms and change a fence clogged with tumbleweeds into a dinosaur spine''; Annie recounts the taste of dust in the bread or the sound of a storm ``tapping like a million pencil points against the window.'' Each girl leaves a legacy--one, ancestral objects, the other, a trail of corn kernels planted along the way. But the real legacy is spirit and heart amidst hardship, which readers, are sure to appreciate. (Fiction. 8-12)