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The Great American Dust Bowl

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  2,842 ratings  ·  381 reviews
A speck of dust is a tiny thing. In fact, five of them could fit into the period at the end of this sentence.

On a clear, warm Sunday, April 14, 1935, a wild wind whipped up millions upon millions of these specks of dust to form a duster—a savage storm—on America's high southern plains.

The sky turned black, sand-filled winds scoured the paint off houses and cars, trains der
Hardcover, 80 pages
Published October 8th 2013 by HMH Books for Young Readers
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 ·  2,842 ratings  ·  381 reviews

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I've heard plenty about the dust bowl, but this does a great job of explaining the scope. This event was happening for more than 10 years. A dust storm would come up and it could blow the dust all the way to DC and the ocean. I simply cannot imagine.

Isn't it so interesting the lesson we have to learn when we think we are smarter than mother nature. They cleared the land of all the prairie grasses that held the soil down and poof, it all went into the air. We learned more about trees and they di
Oct 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a short, quick, easy read, a history lesson in the most attractive packaging imaginable. Brown's text is simply presented, but thoroughly researched. I loved that he had the scientific explanations for the dust storms as well as first hand accounts. And I was delighted to see that he did cite his sources at the end. I don't always see this in adult nonfiction, much less a middle grade graphic novel.

But the art is going to be the star for most readers, including me. The cover is absolute
♥ Sandi ❣
4 stars

I always like to have a graphic at hand to read. Some go quickly and others are a slower read. Some are good verbally, some are well illustrated. It is nice to find one that is both. This book was well illustrated and colorful. It also gave a lot of historical fact wrapped up in it's few pages.

This book tells of the 1930's Dust Bowl in America. Not the first dust storm to ever occur, but the period of time that seemed to hold the most dust storms, one after the other. How it effected the
Concise, well-researched, and easy-to-understand, this excellent graphic novel captures the horrible devastation of the Dust Bow catastrophe. A must have for classroom and school libraries.
Rebecca McNutt
The Great American Dust Bowl is about a very strange natural phenomenon that created a huge cloud of dust, and the people who have to put up with it. This book was great, I didn't even have any idea that Dusters could actually happen or to what extent! And the graphic novel format is a good way to teach simple history to people.
Jan 28, 2014 rated it liked it
Great nonfiction piece on what the dust bowl actually was. Brown talks about the environmental things that happened to make the world dusty, and talks in detail about the effects on the people living in the Midwest at the time.

His illustrations, though often grim, are aesthetically pleasing, and clean and clear. Many take the form of infographics.

He doesn't get down to personal stories, really. He's more focused on the more general experiences of people as a whole, and the macros of the situat
Nov 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a brilliant graphic novel detailing the history of the Dust Bowl. I think I'll pair panels of it with passages from Out of the Dust.
Richie Partington
Richie's Picks: THE GREAT AMERICAN DUST BOWL by Don Brown, Houghton Mifflin, October 2013, 80p., ISBN: 978-0-547-81550-3

"As I lay me down to take my rest
I see that it's just dust in the wind"
-- Mark "Moogy" Klingman (1950-2011)

"The plain bordering the Rockies, despite its flatness, is still more than a thousand feet above sea level. It is a dry place: it receives no more than twenty inches of rain and snow a year, about half of what Georgia, Maine, or Oregon gets.
"Bison found the grass. Herds
There's nothing better than a book that in which you learn something or many somethings. This graphic novel taught me so much about the science behind dust storms and also the devastation that it cause that was not only to people and things, but the damage it cause to wildlife as well as tales about what would bring the rain, but like the recent book about the Irish famine that I read, I also didn't realize how long the dust storms lasted (nearly a decade) AND that they sometimes continue to kic ...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Jan 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poverty, history
I’m always drawn to this story, the story of the American Great Depression. It shaped my dad and mom and my parents’ generation, forming habits of thrift and care amid desperate times of worry and despair. I couldn’t pass up this new graphic novel for older children. And I’m glad I didn’t. Great American Dust Bowl uses startling pictures and words to share the story of that bleak time. Excellent.
Edward Sullivan
A brilliant, dramatic, graphic chronicle of America's worst environmental catastrophe.
Aug 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Overview of the dust bowl. Whetted a thirst to consider taking time for The Worst Hard Times by Egan and Burns'/Duncan The Dust Bowl.
Nov 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
A great little historical graphic about the dust bowl. Very informative... I probably got just as much out of these 80 pages as I did out of a whole book I read on the subject!
Sep 25, 2020 rated it liked it
I had read a few books about the Dust Bowl and seen several PBS documentaries on the subject prior to picking up this graphic novel, so some of the information was not exactly new to me. This graphic novel does a great job at explaining the scope of the Dust Bowl, an ecological event that lasted up to the ten years. The background causes of this event are explained in a concise way as well as the impact it had on those in the direct line of the dust storms. A concise, easy-to-follow narrative to ...more

Don Brown's graphic novel, The Great American Dust Bowl does a fantastic job of laying out the facts about the time in our country's history when the Dust Bowl was at its worst. He lays the foundation for the events by explaining the geology of the region, dating back to the creation of the Rocky Mountains, along with the ecological effects on the region as first the Native Americans and later the settlers lived on the land. He also explains the economic and historical significance of this time

Denice Hein
Apr 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novels
Intermediate Selection:

1. Story plot is easy to follow, Don Brown uses flashback and revisits historically significant events leading up to the American Dust Bowl. I believe this will help students make connections to other events they may or may not have studied completely yet. However, if this graphic novel is being used in a classroom, the teacher may have to decide if these events are worthy of full studies. It is unfortunate the curricula do not align (at least in Lincoln) for this American
Valerie Barnhart
Apr 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novels
1) This text is a nonfiction graphic novel about the events during the Dust Bowl. The plot is easy to follow and the panels are creatively illustrated. This would be a remarkable book to use for researching the topic. The story is easy to understand with the explanation of the changes in land preservation and developments from the ranching to farming of the soil. The larger pictures guide the reader to focus on issues of economy, erosion, effects on people and animals, and life during these diff ...more
Annie Payne
Apr 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was an interesting and quick read. Some kids will find that they enjoy reading about true things while reading this book, but others may find that they would rather read fiction. I intend to use this as a book club selection for a group of preteens in the coming year, and thought of many ways to make our discussion both educational and fun for all of the students involved. We will have a look at my personal rock collection, including my most recent addition from Colorado; a look at my Great ...more
I had only a vague idea of the true scope of the Dust Bowl before picking up this graphic novel, despite considering myself reasonably well-read on the subject (We all had to read Grapes of Wrath in high school, right? Just me? And I'm absolutely going to read The Worst Hard Time very soon. Any day now.) But Don Brown fills in the causes and horrifying effects of the Dust Bowl, not letting it remain vague, something we can consign to the forgotten past. What is this if not a tale of environmenta ...more
Nov 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
If you were drawn in by the cover art, like I was, you will not be disappointed. The illustrations are just mesmerizing. It's not a story, it's a history lesson but the subject matter is riveting. The dust storms of the "dirty thirties" are the subject but Brown gives a nice, concise background of the U.S. Plains and how the environment plays a great, sometimes devastating, role in human lives.
Some of Brown's sentences were confusing; they had a tendency to run on and use conjunctions that didn
Jul 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
I'm currently reading The Writing Thief by Ruth Culham about using mentor texts to teach writing. I think this book by Don Brown would be a great mentor text not only for teaching writing, but also to incorporate into an interdisciplinary unit--it's got history, science, art, narrative ... all sorts of things to talk about! It was a pretty gloomy read, but then again, the Dust Bowl isn't exactly a cheerful topic. I did not like the tone of how the first pioneers were presented compared with the ...more
Ms. Yingling
Dec 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
This graphic novel style book has the most complete and easy to understand explanation of the reason that the Dust Bowl occurred, and also how devastating it was. I had no idea that the overfarming of the plains with the newly invented gas driven plow in order to provide Europe with wheat after WWI led to such severe erosion, nor did I understand the immensity of the dust clouds or the devastation they caused. This is an excellent accompaniment to any book about the Great Depression, and one tha ...more
Fascinating informational graphic novel, with lots of historical factoids to interest young students as well as adults. For example, the fact that the dust storms generated so much electricity in the air that cars would short out and die; or that the dust even extended out to sea, where "a fine grit covered ships' decks like powdered sugar on doughnuts" (43). I just read a novel set during the Great Depression and wanted to learn a bit more about the Dust Bowl. This neat little book did not disa ...more
Nov 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. Great presentation of facts in a graphic novel format, excellent use of color and spacing. I love how the speech bubbles are actual quotes annotated in the back matter, very well researched. I learned a lot about this time period and area. Kids in Texas will be able to relate to the drought and dust storms, they sometimes even reach Dallas! I said WOW when I got to the end and turned the page to the actual photos of the 1930s and recent storms.
Nov 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Exceptional accounting of a devastating event in our country's history. The graphic format makes it accessible to readers who might not be as willing to pick up a typical informational book on the subject. The back matter includes a thorough listing of source notes and selected bibliography. This would be paired well with Phelan's Storm in the Barn and Birney's Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs.

Don Brown is amazing. A graphic novel history of the Dust Bowl, focusing on the ecological reasons for the disaster. He uses the actual words of people who wrote about their experiences, and has a comprehensive list of sources at the end.

The illustrations are sepia-toned; appropriate for the time and the topic.
Lukas Holmes
Jan 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wow! Totally surprised by this one. A slice of history presented eloquently and concisely. More than a little terrifying (see bugs and suffocation) and eye opening. I love that Brown focuses on the causes of the disaster, the impact as it happened and the overcoming of it. A cautionary tale of ecological disaster.
Tena Edlin
This book was displayed in our school library with other new nonfiction books. I don't read a ton of informational nonfiction, but this one caught my eye. It explains the dust bowl in a way that's very easy to understand, and I think the format of a graphic novel is perfect for the information the author is providing. A quick, very informative read. I learned a lot.
Emily Northcutt
Excellent non-fiction presentation of a topic that tweens and teens may not be familiar with. Beautifully illustrated and engaging. This would partner well with Karen Hesse's "Out of the Dust". Highly recommended!
Amanda Northrup
Mar 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
An excellent nonfiction book in pseudo graphic novel form. I loved the way the author set the dust bowl in historical context all the way back to plate tectonics. I only wish there had been more. I plan to pair it for those students who read Out of the Dust.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Don Brown is the award-winning author and illustrator of many picture book biographies. He has been widely praised for his resonant storytelling and his delicate watercolor paintings that evoke the excitement, humor, pain, and joy of lives lived with passion. School Library Journal has called him "a current pac

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