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The Children's Blizzard

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  3,807 ratings  ·  782 reviews
The New York Times bestselling author of The Aviator's Wife reveals a little-known story of courage on the prairie: the freak blizzard that struck the Great Plains, threatening the lives of hundreds of immigrant homesteaders--especially their children.

The morning of January 12, 1888, was unusually mild, following a long cold spell, warm enough for the homesteaders of the D
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published January 12th 2021 by Delacorte Press
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  • The Children's Blizzard by Melanie Benjamin
    The Children's Blizzard

    Release date: Jan 12, 2021
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    Giveaway dates: Mar 01 - Mar 31, 2021

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    Melanie Benjamin Hi! My historical novel, THE CHILDREN'S BLIZZARD, is based on the actual Children's Blizzard of 1888. The David Laskin book is an excellent nonfiction…moreHi! My historical novel, THE CHILDREN'S BLIZZARD, is based on the actual Children's Blizzard of 1888. The David Laskin book is an excellent nonfiction history of the same event. Mine, being a novel, has fictionalized characters whose lives are changed by this devastating blizzard, although some of those characters are based on actual oral histories of those involved. In short, mine is a fictionalized story about many different people whose lives are changed forever by this actual disaster. (less)
    Melanie Benjamin In those days, in those rural settlements without much money, school buildings were never intended to be more than basic shelters for a few hours a da…moreIn those days, in those rural settlements without much money, school buildings were never intended to be more than basic shelters for a few hours a day, whenever school was in session. And the school year took backseat to the farming season. So while education was important - and the law - farming was a lot more important. Most of the schoolteachers (again, on the prairie) were young women from the area; those districts couldn't afford to pay salaries for college-educated teachers, so they relied on their own. So they would definitely know how to behave in the prairie weather. There wasn't really anything that happened after the storm to better prepare them, though - nor was much done to make those schoolhouses more insulated or better built or stocked with provisions. It really came down to money, and there wasn't much of it in those areas in those days. There was no janitor, either. The people of the community had to pitch in to maintain the schools. So again - just the basics were provided. When the weather was the worst, of course, they didn't hold school. The tragedy of this blizzard is that it occurred on a day which began so mild.

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    Dec 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
    The Children's Blizzard by Melanie Benjamin

    The Children's Blizzard is a historical novel that deals with a real time in history known as the Schoolhouse Blizzard, due to the number of children that perish during this tragic storm. The time is January 12, 1888 and the blizzard covers the eastern United States and Canada. This story concerns fictional characters, families who homestead the Dakota territory, and a newsman who feels great guilt for his stories that enticed so many people to leave th
    Angela M
    Jan 25, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    A brutal fictional portrayal of the loss of life, of limbs from frostbite on January 12, 1888 when an unexpected blizzard which actually hit the Dakota Territories and upended the already difficult lives of immigrant homesteaders. Known as Children’s Blizzard, the majority of those who lost their lives were children as the blizzard hit just as school was about to end for day. While this true historical event is the focus of the novel, Benjamin does an amazing job of also reflecting the time and ...more
    Dorie  - Cats&Books :)

    This book reminded me of why I love historical fiction!! Woven into this story are real facts about the prairie. Not just the time of the blizzard but day after day life and what these settlers faced.

    Immigrants were lured to the land with the promise of 160 acres of land if they settled it for 5 years. Many immigrants were looking for a fresh start, lured by advertising pamphlets that promised so much. “Come to Nebraska, the Garden of Eden!. Acres for the
    Nov 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    Come to Nebraska...acres for the taking as per the Homestead Act of 1862. "...-one hundred and sixty of these heavenly acres for only a small filing fee. In five years, those acres will be yours...". "...every pamphlet filled with lies about the land and its opportunities...they came on boats, on trains...the poor, the disenfranchised, the seekers, the dreamers...pack[ing] themselves tightly into [train]cars...immigrants from across the sea...from the cities...they came full of promise. They cam ...more
    Dec 05, 2020 rated it liked it
    Shelves: netgalley
    ***On January 12, 1888, 235 people were killed by "The Children's Blizzard” that swept across the Northwest Plains. It is estimated that temperatures plunged to 40 degrees below zero in most parts of North Dakota. Most of the dead were children who died attempting to get home after school. - facts taken from Wikipedia and The History Channel websites.

    **This book is based upon the oral histories of survivors.

    The morning of January 12, 1888, began as a mild day after a long period of cold weather.
    Based on a little-known blizzard that struck the Great Plains on January 12th, 1888. “The storm hit at precisely the wrong time here in northeastern Nebraska, southeastern Dakota. (…) It hit right when most schools were about to disgorge its pupils for the day, or just had.”

    Gavin Woodson, a newspaperman in Omaha, “writes for the state’s boosters and railroad investors, advertising Nebraska as the Garden of Eden, something it was not. To sell all these acres, recently won from the Indians, to rub

    Come to Nebraska, the Garden of Eden!

    With promises of a better life, people came in waves from across the seas and across the land, toting what meager possessions they could manage, their hearts filled with hope for a better life. Some were farmers believing in the promise of more land, and better soil. Some were fleeing lives where they were destined to die, believing the pamphlets they had read, believing the promises. Some were hopeful for a life with fresher, cleaner air, fleeing confini
    Jan 09, 2021 rated it really liked it
    Four Stars

    This is a work of historical fiction about a devastating and unexpected actual blizzard that occurred on January 12, 1888 in the northern Great Plains territories of the United States. The specific states affected were Nebraska, North and South Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Minnesota and Kansas. It had been unusually warm that morning, so it caught people unawares, and many had decided to go out and did not dress appropriately for the event that would suddenly occur. It especially a
    Dec 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
    Shelves: 2020
    4 snowy historical fiction stars -- This one releases today -- January 12, 2021, the 133rd anniversary of the storm. Very clever nod to the publisher.

    One of my favorite things about historical fiction is when I learn new things about our past. I love how books like this bring events to life and make a memorable impact on me. This is my third book by this author and now my favorite of hers. I got to meet her at a bookstore event (remember those?) a few years ago and she gave an interesting talk a
    Jan 01, 2021 rated it liked it
    Jan 12th, 1888 an unexpected blizzard came through the plains, on what started out as a very balmy day.
    It came at the time of day when children were about to be let out of school for the day, and so it’s known as The Schoolhouse Blizzard or Children’s Blizzard.
    Many of the teachers in these schoolhouses were very young girls of about 16 yrs old.
    This story is mostly about a young teacher named Raina and older sister Gerda, also a teacher at another school that got caught up with their student
    Jan 17, 2021 rated it really liked it
    I had never heard of the Children’s Blizzard, the name given to a blizzard that hit the Midwest in 1888. It was a uniquely tragic event because the weather had been relatively warm and the storm was unexpected. Many children died trying to get home from school and journalists played up the human interest aspects of the tragedy.

    The story skipped around among several characters during and after the storm. Sisters Gerda and Raina were both teachers in different schools. One sister lead her stude
    I know my opinion of this book is really going to go against the grain of so many readers but the fact is I didn't care for it. I have read other books by Ms Benjamin that I felt were much better in their construction, their writing, and their approach. I loved her The Girls in the Picture, and very much enjoyed her Mistress of the Ritz , Alice I Have Been, and The Aviator's Wife.

    I do have a bone to pick with authors or perhaps publishers that classify their books as an historical fiction. Many
    Nov 24, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
    One of the things I love most about historical fiction is gaining knowledge of past events. I’d never heard of the Children's Blizzard of 1888 and though this is ‘fiction’ I still feel educated after reading it. A terrible tragedy starting with all the people being ‘lured’ to this area and then with the huge responsibilities placed upon children. In my opinion they all deserve the label of hero.

    I thought the story itself was good though there were very few likable characters and it dragged in s
    Bam cooks the books ;-)
    *4-4.5 stars. Turn the heat up and grab an afghan before you sit down to read, because I guarantee you will soon be freezing.

    This is an excellent work of historical fiction about the brutal blizzard that hit the Plains states on January 12, 1888, leaving a high death toll in its wake. It's known as 'the children's blizzard' because so many children were injured or lost their lives in often futile attempts to return home from school that day. Afterwards there were many stories of tragedy, heroic
    Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
    Nov 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
    We meet two sisters who are teachers and a blizzard that is wreaking havoc on the Great Plains just as school is about to be let out.

    Raina and Gerda had to make the decision about letting the students run home or to keep them in the school. Either choice was made the right choice and one didn't.

    The decisions made by Raina and Gerda stayed with them and affected them for their entire lives.

    We follow the children, the teachers, the townspeople as the blizzard rages, as people become lo
    Feb 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing
    January 1888. The brutal cold winter had eased a bit. In the Dakota Territory, school children returned to class on a mild-for-January day. Some even ventured out without their heavy coats. It was nice to have a break from the cold snap they had been enduring. Nobody realized that later that day....just about the time for school children to be released to return home....a fast-moving, unexpected blizzard would hit. Blinding snow, dangerous cold, terrible wind, no visibility.

    The Children's Blizz
    Jan 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
    Shelves: drama, non-fiction
    This book is a historical work based on real events which covers parts of the the most brutal and devastating blizzard that ever occurred on January 12, 1888 in Nebraska that would become known as "The Children's Blizzard". The story follows the lives of four central characters Raina and Gerda Olsen who are young teenage schoolteachers, Annette a ten year old unwanted servant child who has never experienced true love ir happiness in her short life and Gavin Woodson a reporter originally from New ...more
    Jan 05, 2021 rated it it was ok
    I’ve read other books by this author and have liked some of them. To state the obvious, Historical Fiction is fiction so altering facts, creating characters, and making assumptions is to be expected. I’m fine with that as long as the storyline successfully depicts the events, people, and aftermath. This isn’t the case here. The characters are one dimensional, the horror of the blizzard not fully illustrated, and the writing is mediocre.
    Nov 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    My heart was in my throat for most of the book and yes, tears fell. Melanie Benjamin has created a fictional portrayal around an actual event known as The Children's Blizzzard that happened on January 12, 1888 in the Dakota Territory. It was a relatively mild day after a severe cold snap. People had gotten out of their homes to get supplies, get their animals out to in the fields, and the children went to school as it was the first day they could after it had been so cold. They went to school wi ...more
    Karen R
    Dec 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    On the temperate morning of January 12, 1888, immigrant children walked coatless to school. Nobody could have predicted the blizzard of gigantic proportion just hours away. Shortly after the children were settled in their one-room school house, this surprise catastrophic blizzard struck. Lacking communications, the children’s courageous and resourceful young teachers took charge, making difficult decisions to save the children.

    I went into this story unaware of this real disaster that took place
    Sep 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
    Shelves: 2020-net-galley

    In her new book Melanie Benjamin decided to use fictional character's that a couple of them are loosely based on surrounding a real factual event. The book starts out rather slow highlighting all of the propaganda that was put out in Eastern newspaper's etc. about how the prairie land surrounding the states out west such as Nebraska, Minnesota, Dakota territory, then later Montana was rich farming land to lure many Europeans and poor people from Eastern
    Jan 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
    I love these fiction reads for the nuggets of history and the memories of survivors that the storylines are based off of, and this book is no exception. I had never read any books about the Great Plains Blizzard of 1888, which reportedly took the lives of over 225 people. Many of them were children, being that it was a freak storm that occurred in the afternoon when children were finishing their school day.

    The Children’s Blizzard follows two Swedish immigrant sisters, Raina and Gerda Olsen, who
    Jan 22, 2021 rated it really liked it
    A masterfully written historical fiction story bounding with chilly details

    January 12, 1888 started as a mild day on the Great Plains, especially in comparison to the frigid temperatures of the past weeks. The children of the Nebraska and Dakota Territory were anxious to get back to school and they left their heavy jackets at home. So when the freak storm hit, school teachers were faced with life and death decisions. Keep the children at the ill-prepared one room schoolhouse or send them
    Pam Jenoff
    Jan 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing
    The Children's Blizzard by Melanie Benjamin. Melanie's latest, out just over a week, tells the story of immigrant children caught in school during an unexpected blizzard in the Dakota Territor in the 1880's. Harrowing and heartfelt -- a must read! ...more
    Bonnie DeMoss
    Feb 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing
    The Children’s Blizzard is the story of the devastating blizzard of 1888, which swept across the Great Plains with no warning and killed hundreds of people, many of them children on their way home from school. This is a fictionalized account of that devastating storm, but is based upon actual events and oral histories of the survivors.

    This book is exquisitely written. Melanie Benjamin does an incredible job of connecting the reader with the characters. She shares the backstories and inner though
    Nan Williams
    Oct 07, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
    Recommends it for: no one
    Shelves: kindle, netgalley, quit
    This novel, based on factual events, was populated with very hate-filled people who were totally self seeking. I simply can’t swallow that opinion of those who were merely seeking a better life for themselves and their families. Additionally the author used this historical event as a vehicle to promote a current political agenda.

    I was not able to finish the book because of the unpleasantness of the above. I appreciate this ARC from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. It
    Oct 13, 2020 rated it liked it
    A few years ago, I read a fabulous book on the children’s blizzard by David Laskin. His book is also called The Children’s Blizzard. I was very excited to read Benjamin‘s novel about that tragic and riveting tale. This book was good, but not nearly good as the non-fiction that Laskin wrote. Why mess with the real thing? I read this quickly as I was fascinated by the story, but had several annoyed moments when social topics de jour were broached in the story. How many pioneer woman with children ...more
    Feb 11, 2021 rated it really liked it
    A fictional account of a tragic historic event. A sad bit great read.
    Feb 01, 2021 rated it did not like it
    There is much about this book that I didn’t like but it could be I just didn’t like the parts of the book that were facts, although I must say I disliked all the characters.

    I found (a) racism, and (b) a woman who sells her child for a few farm animals.

    And two sisters – the main characters – Raina and Gerda – one is tempted into an almost illicit affair with the husband of the household where she is boarding and the other one sends the children home from school early because she wants to have a f
    Feb 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
    Based upon actual events and survivors of the 1888 blizzard in the Dakota Territory.
    The day began unusually warm so that many of the homesteaders and school children ventured out without their warm woolens and coats. Just as school is being dismissed an unexpected blizzard caused the temperature to plummet and made visibility near impossible. The teachers had to make the tough decision to dismiss their students or shelter in place. For sisters Raina and Gerda Olsen, both teachers, their fatal de
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    Melanie Benjamin is the author of the New York Times bestselling novels THE SWANS OF FIFTH AVENUE and THE AVIATOR'S WIFE, as well as the national bestseller ALICE I HAVE BEEN, and THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MRS. TOM THUMB and MISTRESS OF THE RITZ. Her most recent novel is the new historical fiction, THE CHILDREN'S BLIZZARD, about the real-life devastating blizzard that swept the Great Plains in 1888, up ...more

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