us your ideas!
- Out of
Depression, dust storms, farm
life, Oklahoma, poetry
Set in Oklahoma during the Dust
Bowl, this is the story of 14 year
old Billie Jo. Told in diary form as
a series of free-verse poems, the
book is a realistic portrait of the
Depression-era with entries dated
from the winter of 1934 through the
winter of 1935. Readers explore the
hardships of living on a family
wheat farm. Billie Jo's mother dies
after an accident with burning
kerosene and Billie Jo blames
herself and her father for her
mother's death. Billie Jo is a
talented pianist, but is reluctant
to play after burns scar her hands.
She leaves home, but soon learns how
much "dust" is a part of her. We can
almost feel the heat, dust, and wind
as she struggles to survive a
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- Author and Book
- Karen Hesse (1952- )
- Author Information
- Book Information
- Student Connections. Explore projects created
by students. Check out the We Made Do - Recalling The
Great Depression project.
- Book Connection. Read another book set during
the depression. Compare and contrast the lives of the
characters. For example, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry is
set in the south during the depression.
- Music Connection. Billie Jo played the piano.
As students work on projects, play Depression-era music
in the background.
- Related Topics. Explore the following topics:
pianos, FDR, government food, moonshine, migrant workers,
FERA, CCC, burns.
- Cool Classroom
- Diaries and Poem. Out of the Dust has a unique
combination of diary form and poem writing. Try keeping a
diary in this format.
- Dust Bowl. Read about the Dust Bowl period.
Was the book an accurate depiction of the time period? In
four small groups, examine the Song Text, Audio Titles,
Photographs, and Performers/Interviewees sections at the
Voices from the Dust Bowl site. Pick examples that remind
you of a particular story in the book.
- Depression. Although Oklahoma was hit
particularly hard by the depression, the rest of the
country also suffered. How did the depression impact
people in different parts of the United States? Using the
Timelines page, create charts showing radical changes and
- Oral History. Interview a person who remembers
The Great Depression and compare their memories with
Billie Jo's experiences. Select a picture from the time
period. Write a story that includes Billie Jo or the
person you interviewed.
- Dinosaurs. Fossils were found during the dust
bowl. Why were they found during this time period? What
types of dinosaurs were found?
- My 8th graders just finished
Out of the Dust. We took "literary partners" and wrote
"literary letters" back and forth during our reading of
the book. The students had some remarkable insights and
were much more open when writing to a peer. I was amazed
by the content they produced.L
- Hi I just wanted to say that
this book is really what writing should be about. Every
word means something. Every word is important. I think
writing it in poems are so much more real and to the
point. There aren't unessary sentence in between each
stanza like there would be in a normal book. This way it
is easy to read. I know a lot of people who liked it not
only because it was good but because they could
understand it. That helps a lot. Also I liked the ending
of the book. It wasn't some perfect ending it was real.
It was tolerable. This story could have happened could
have actually happened. When I began reading this book I
couldn't begin to think of the possible endings for the
end. Usually in other books I have the ending all ready
figured out by the third chapter. So I just wanted to
thank Karen Hesse for writing what was real. It was
actually worth my time to read this book. Its a relief to
know there are
- some gifted writers like her.
Also I would like to say that the book Letters From Rifka
was outstanding as well. My mom even liked it. Thanks for
reading. Lauren 14 yrs., St.Louis
- Created by Annette
Lamb, 10/99. Updated
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