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Out of the Dust

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  40,224 ratings  ·  2,760 reviews
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-
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Published April 11th 2006 by Listening Library (Audio) (first published January 1st 1997)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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K.D. Absolutely
Apr 11, 2011 K.D. Absolutely rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: Kwesi
Shelves: childrens, newberry
This story is so dark and gruesome that if it were put in prose and not in verse, would probably not pass the standard of the judges for the Newberry Medal. Yes, this won that medal (1998) because the beautiful verses toned down the gloom and sadness that even a middle-age man Asian guy like me felt while imagining what happened to the Kelby family during the Oklahoma Dust Bowl in 1934-1935. It is just too sad that even the harrowing experience of the Joad family in John Steinbeck’s magnum opus, ...more
will someone tell me why this is written in verse?? it doesnt add anything to the feel of the book; if anything, it is distracting and seems very contrived. why would this character be writing poems?? it would make so much more sense to write this as diary entries. maybe because poems take up more room so you can get away with writing less to make up a full book?? no one knows. that being said, i liked this, but its not going to earn a place on my childrens book wall of fame. its kind of horrify ...more
This book is so depressing I wanted to shoot myself.
Kwesi 章英狮
I never enjoyed my history subject when I was young, I always have the worst teacher and the worst field trips in my entire life. Contradict to that, I enjoyed reading historical fiction and children's books. Although I don't have any idea about dust bowl or the great depression or whatever happened that time. I told you, I never learned something from my world history teacher. But after reading this book last year, I was amazed that Karen Hesse wrote something emotional for children to love and ...more
May 27, 2011 jzhunagev rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Children who would like to know about life in Depression-era, Dust Bowl Oklahoma
Recommended to jzhunagev by: Kwesi Ian Jay Junsan
Because of Dust
(A Book Review of Karen Hesse’s Out of the Dust)

Since reading John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, I’ve often wondered how life could’ve been to the Oklahoman farmers and families who opted not to leave their land. Karen Hesse, in her 1998 Newbery Medal book Out of the Dust, gives us a glimpse of the rigors of farm life in the Depression-era, Dust Bowl Oklahoma through the eyes of Billie Jo as her father scrapes a meager living out of the parched, drought-stricken fields while she gr
May 28, 2014 Teresa rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Teresa by: Kwesi 章英狮
I read this book (historical fiction told in prose poetry) yesterday. Then, this morning, I saw in the newspaper that the Oklahoma Panhandle (where this book is set) is experiencing a drought worse even than during the Dust Bowl, the time period of this novel.

I think if I had been able to read this as a child, it would've made an even bigger impression on me. It would've stayed in my memory and I probably would've gone on to read Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath when I got older. (I still need to
Maybe I would like this more if I read it now on my own. As it is, I read it in high school and hated every second of it. Most depressing thing I've ever read in my life. I understand that living in the Oklahoma dust bowl would be horrible but that's not the depressing part...
Book number 4, I mean 6, on my Young Adult whirlwind reading binge. I think these books are making my head go softer than it already was.

This is an ambivalent three stars. This book didn't do much for me. I like that the reviews that I glanced at for this book all called this really depressing. Maybe I don't like it, but I find it kind of amusing. I didn't find it all that depressing, the most depressing thing in the book I think was lifted from Woody Guthries life, opps. I don't really know ab
Ln Rispoli
Out of the Dust is my kind of book. It is an incredibly emotional story told through poetry. The book is slow paced because of the poetic convention but this allows your feelings to develop and grow as you sympathize for the main character Billie Jo and her family. Even though Out of the Dust is set less than a century ago it feels like a very different world. The Depression was tough for a lot of people but the Dust Bowl was truly horrific. Often times when people think about such major tragedi ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I read this book for my goodreads Newbery online book club. I thought it was very good, but should be in the YA section. The horror, guilt, and anguish of the accident which killed the mother and maimed the main character's hands are not appropriate for elementary school children. It seems that I've read several books lately written in blank verse (others by Sharon Creech). I really appreciate that form. The words flow simply and easily so that I almost forget I am reading poetry. But actually i ...more
Wow - I picked it up because my neice Molly had written in a letter that she was reading it. I treated myself to a trip to the library on New Year's Eve when I got out of work several hours early and picked it up. When I paged through it, I wasn't enthused because it was written in poetic prose format. Didn't think I'd like it. I was wrong. It was a fantastic story and told in a remarkable way. Sadness, grief, frustration, hopelessness and then hope. Pretty heavy stuff for adults let alone fifth ...more
Amy Rae
I never read this one when it came out, for whatever reason, but last semester, one of my classmates just absolutely adored it. And his enthusiasm got me interested in reading it as well.

And I'm glad I did. The sparse verse suits the hardscrabble life described within it, where nothing is free from dust and an ill-placed pail of kerosene can change everything. Finally, a novel in verse that feels equal to Inside Out & Back Again!
Maddi Couture
I love this book but it is way to sad. The one thing I really like about it is the suspence. It makes me want to read more and pages of it. My mom has to pry me out of the book.
Natalie Ethington
teenager survives the dust bowl. Written in poetry form with sparse language usage. Very powerful, sad, hopeful, etc. LOVED IT!
Catherine Yee

Out of the dust...
And into the trash
Danylle DuPris
I picked out "Out of the Dust" by Karen Hesse. At first I didn't think it was going to be that good of a book. As I read on though, I realized it was actually really good. This girl named Billie Jo plays the piano. She is really good at playing the piano. As her mom was making coffee she ended up spilling hot kerosene all over her stomach with the baby still inside, along with Billie Jo's hands. Billie Jo thought she would help to throw it out but burnt herself and her mom instead. Polly, the mo ...more
karrie's corner
It's hard to believe that Oklahoma was a dust bowl in the '30s, because it doesn't seem to be that way now. Towns, buildings, population and changes in the environment seem to left the dust bowl, well, in the dust.

Billie Jo tells the story of her life as a young girl living during the Depression in the dust bowl. Her descriptions of dust outlining her body as she slept, being in her food as she eats dinner, and making her eyes feel gritty leaves the reader feeling as if you're there. The entir
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
To start with this book to me is extremely good in so many ways.The beginning start with a sign of survival and some good parts of the book were very emotionally good and the main character billie jo is a extremely good piano player.
Billie Jo is coming of age in Dust-torn Oklahoma, where things like playing piano and occasionally glimpsing an art exhibit brighten a lifestyle otherwise constantly browned by layers of dust. Her life changes drastically when an kerosene accident scars her piano-hands and kills her mother and soon-to-be baby brother. Through the filter of dust and hardship around her, Billie Jo comes to terms with her new life, learning not to let go of dreams and that you can stay in one place and still grow. ...more
Lauren Kester
I liked the book “Out of the Dust” because it showed me how things used to be. I also enjoyed this book because the girl in the story is close to my age so I can relate to some of her problems. When I was in 7th grade I was going to read this book for one of my classes but the school year ended. My sister had this book so I decided I was going to read it.
This story takes place during the dust bowl in 1930. Severe drought didn’t help with crop growing. Most of the families during this time per
This book was a sad one. I know that the author did its best to show all the hardships for the people of the Dust Bowl, but it still I think she went to far with her morbidness. I believe that she could've added more happy and interesting things like what the children did for fun when they weren't working or something like that. Other than that I think that this could be a great learning tool for school, but watch out; its a depressing book.
Debbie Hayes-miller
CIP summary "In a series of poems, fifteen-year-old Billie Joe relates the hardships of living on her family's wheat farm in Oklahoma during the dust bowl years of the Depression."

Karen Hesse portrays a stark and realistic view of the character's struggle to survive the dust bowl and the lose of her mother. This story is heartbreaking at times but ends with hope. I can't even imagine how people could lived in Oklahoma during this time!
I really loved this book. Despite what others might say, I loved that it was in poem format. This book was sad, happy, eye-opening, and very inspiring. This girl had many struggles to face at such a young age, yet she still persevered. I would love to read more books like this in our Language Arts class. I recommend this book to people of all ages, depending on their reading level. I am a little upset that we are finished reading it. Haha :)
I just finished Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse and really enjoyed the reading experience. I have been wanting to read this book for years not just because it's an Newbery Award/YASLA Award winner, but because the picture of the little girl on the cover looks very similar to my mother at that age.

This is not a young child's book; topics are not sugar-coated at all. Without giving away any plot, there is death, severe injury, and a very uncomfortable confrontation between the main character, Bill
Inspired Kathy
3.5 Stars.
What a depressing story. Makes me grateful for the life I live. Set in the Oklahoma dust bowl it's one trial after another for Billie Jo and her family as they try to survive in terrible times.

This is a clean read.

This book was so good i think that Billie Jo's mom dying made Billie Jo strong and able to do anything that she puts here mind to because losing her mom is probably the hardest thing that she will have to do in her life other than losing her dad.
Elisabeth Kinsey
This is possibly one of my favorite books. Eloquent, subtle, heart-breaking and beautiful. Every chapter is a prose poem. You can open it up any time and be moved by a page. It's not just for teens.
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Karen Hesse is an American author of children's literature and literature for young adults, often with historical settings. Her novel Out of the Dust was the winner of the 1998 Newbery Medal and the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction. In 2002, Hesse was a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship.

For more information, please see
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“the way i see it, hard times aren't only about money, or drought, or dust. hard times are about losing spirit, and hope, and what happens when dreams dry up.” 44 likes
“And I know now that all the time I was trying to get
out of the dust,
the fact is,
what I am,
I am because of the dust.
And what I am is good enough.
Even for me.”
More quotes…